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Title: Violin Mastery
       Talks with Master Violinists and Teachers

Author: Frederick H. Martens

Release Date: April 4, 2005 [EBook #15535]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Peter Barozzi and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team.

[Illustration: EUGENE YSAYE, with hand-written note]

                             VIOLIN MASTERY


                        MAUD POWELL AND OTHERS


                          FREDERICK H. MARTENS

                         WITH SIXTEEN PORTRAITS

                                NEW YORK
                      FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

                       _Copyright, 1919, by_
                    FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

                 *       *       *       *       *

        _All rights reserved, including that of translation
                     into foreign languages_


The appreciation accorded Miss Harriette Brower's admirable books on
PIANO MASTERY has prompted the present volume of intimate _Talks with
Master Violinists and Teachers_, in which a number of famous artists and
instructors discuss esthetic and technical phases of the art of violin
playing in detail, their concept of what Violin Mastery means, and how
it may be acquired. Only limitation of space has prevented the inclusion
of numerous other deserving artists and teachers, yet practically all of
the greatest masters of the violin now in this country are represented.
That the lessons of their artistry and experience will be of direct
benefit and value to every violin student and every lover of violin
music may be accepted as a foregone conclusion.

                                      FREDERICK H. MARTENS.
    171 Orient Way,
      Rutherford N.J.

    FOREWORD                                                         v

    EUGENE YSAYE         The Tools of Violin Mastery                 1

    LEOPOLD AUER         A Method without Secrets                   14

    EDDY BROWN           Hubay and Auer: Technic: Hints
                           to the Student                           25

    MISCHA ELMAN         Life and Color in Interpretation.
                           Technical Phases                         38

    SAMUEL GARDNER       Technic and Musicianship                   54

    ARTHUR HARTMANN      The Problem of Technic                     66

    JASCHA HEIFETZ       The Danger of Practicing Too
                           Much. Technical Mastery and
                           Temperament                              78

    DAVID HOCHSTEIN      The Violin as a Means of Expression
                           and Expressive Playing                   91

    FRITZ KREISLER       Personality in Art                         99

    FRANZ KNEISEL        The Perfect String Ensemble               110

    ADOLFO BETTI         The Technic of the Modern Quartet         127

    HANS LETZ            The Technic of Bowing                     140

    DAVID MANNES         The Philosophy of Violin Teaching         146

    TIVADAR NACHEZ       Joachim and Leonard as Teachers           160

    MAXIMILIAN PILZER    The Singing Tone and the Vibrato          177

    MAUD POWELL          Technical Difficulties: Some Hints
                           for the Concert Player                  183

    LEON SAMETINI        Harmonics                                 198

    ALEXANDER SASLAVSKY  What the Teacher Can and Cannot Do        210

    TOSCHA SEIDEL        How to Study                              219

    EDMUND SEVERN        The Joachim Bowing and Others:
                           The Left Hand                           227

    ALBERT SPALDING      The Most Important Factor in the
                           Development of an Artist                240

    THEODORE SPIERING    The Application of Bow Exercises
                           to the Study of Kreutzer                247

    JACQUES THIBAUD      The Ideal Program                         259

    GUSTAV SAENGER       The Editor as a Factor in "Violin
                           Mastery"                                277

       Eugene Ysaye                                   _Frontispiece_

       Leopold Auer                                          14

       Mischa Elman                                          38

       Arthur Hartmann                                       66

       Jascha Heifetz                                        78

       Fritz Kreisler                                       100

       Franz Kneisel                                        110

       Adolfo Betti                                         128

       David Mannes                                         146

       Tivadar Nachez                                       160

       Maud Powell                                          184

       Toscha Seidel                                        220

       Albert Spalding                                      240

       Theodore Spiering                                    248

       Jacques Thibaud                                      260

       Gustav Saenger                                       278

                              VIOLIN MASTERY

                               EUGENE YSAYE

                        THE TOOLS OF VIOLIN MASTERY

Who is there among contemporary masters of the violin whose name stands
for more at the present time than that of the great Belgian artist, his
"extraordinary temperamental power as an interpreter" enhanced by a
hundred and one special gifts of tone and technic, gifts often alluded
to by his admiring colleagues? For Ysaye is the greatest exponent of
that wonderful Belgian school of violin playing which is rooted in his
teachers Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski, and which as Ysaye himself says,
"during a period covering seventy years reigned supreme at the
_Conservatoire_ in Paris in the persons of Massart, Remi, Marsick, and
others of its great interpreters."

What most impresses one who meets Ysaye and talks with him for the
first time is the mental breadth and vision of the man; his kindness and
amiability; his utter lack of small vanity. When the writer first called
on him in New York with a note of introductio from his friend and
admirer Adolfo Betti, and later at Scarsdale where, in company with his
friend Thibaud, he was dividing his time between music and tennis, Ysaye
made him entirely at home, and willingly talked of his art and its
ideals. In reply to some questions anent his own study years, he said:

"Strange to say, my father was my very first teacher--it is not often
the case. I studied with him until I went to the Liege Conservatory in
1867, where I won a second prize, sharing it with Ovide Musin, for
playing Viotti's 22d Concerto. Then I had lessons from Wieniawski in
Brussels and studied two years with Vieuxtemps in Paris. Vieuxtemps was
a paralytic when I came to him; yet a wonderful teacher, though he could
no longer play. And I was already a concertizing artist when I met him.
He was a very great man, the grandeur of whose tradition lives in the
whole 'romantic school' of violin playing. Look at his seven
concertos--of course they are written with an eye to effect, from the
virtuoso's standpoint, yet how firmly and solidly they are built up!
How interesting is their working-out: and the orchestral score is far
more than a mere accompaniment. As regards virtuose effect only
Paganini's music compares with his, and Paganini, of course, did not
play it as it is now played. In wealth of technical development, in true
musical expressiveness Vieuxtemps is a master. A proof is the fact that
his works have endured forty to fifty years, a long life for

"Joachim, Leonard, Sivori, Wieniawski--all admired Vieuxtemps. In
Paganini's and Locatelli's works the effect, comparatively speaking,
lies in the mechanics; but Vieuxtemps is the great artist who made the
instrument take the road of romanticism which Hugo, Balzac and Gauthier
trod in literature. And before all the violin was made to charm, to
move, and Vieuxtemps knew it. Like Rubinstein, he held that the artist
must first of all have ideas, emotional power--his technic must be so
perfected that he does not have to think of it! Incidentally, speaking
of schools of violin playing, I find that there is a great tendency to
confuse the Belgian and French. This should not be. They are distinct,
though the latter has undoubtedly been formed and influenced by the
former. Many of the great violin names, in fact,--Vieuxtemps, Leonard*,
Marsick, Remi, Parent, de Broux, Musin, Thomson,--are all Belgian."

    *Transcriber's note: Original text read "Leonard".

                           YSAYE'S REPERTORY

Ysaye spoke of Vieuxtemps's repertory--only he did not call it that: he
spoke of the Vieuxtemps compositions and of Vieuxtemps himself.
"Vieuxtemps wrote in the grand style; his music is always rich and
sonorous. If his violin is really to sound, the violinist must play
Vieuxtemps, just as the 'cellist plays Servais. You know, in the
Catholic Church, at Vespers, whenever God's name is spoken, we bow the
head. And Wieniawski would always bow his head when he said: 'Vieuxtemps
is the master of us all!'

"I have often played his _Fifth Concerto_, so warm, brilliant and
replete with temperament, always full-sounding, rich in an almost
unbounded strength. Of course, since Vieuxtemps wrote his concertos, a
great variety of fine modern works has appeared, the appreciation of
chamber-music has grown and developed, and with it that of the sonata.
And the modern violin sonata is also a vehicle for violin virtuosity in
the very best meaning of the word. The sonatas of Cesar Franck, d'Indy,
Theodore Dubois, Lekeu, Vierne, Ropartz, Lazarri--they are all highly
expressive, yet at the same time virtuose. The violin parts develop a
lovely song line, yet their technic is far from simple. Take Lekeu's
splendid Sonata in G major; rugged and massive, making decided technical
demands--it yet has a wonderful breadth of melody, a great expressive
quality of song."

These works--those who have heard the Master play the beautiful Lazarri
sonata this season will not soon forget it--are all dedicated to Ysaye.
And this holds good, too, of the Cesar Franck sonata. As Ysaye says:
"Performances of these great sonatas call for _two_ artists--for their
piano parts are sometimes very elaborate. Cesar Franck sent me his
sonata on September 26, 1886, my wedding day--it was his wedding
present! I cannot complain as regards the number of works, really
important works, inscribed to me. There are so many--by Chausson (his
symphony), Ropartz, Dubois (his sonata--one of the best after Franck),
d'Indy (the _Istar_ variations and other works), Gabriel Faure (the
Quintet), Debussy (the Quartet)! There are more than I can recall at
the moment--violin sonatas, symphonic music, chamber-music, choral
works, compositions of every kind!

"Debussy, as you know, wrote practically nothing originally for the
violin and piano--with the exception, perhaps, of a work published by
Durand during his last illness. Yet he came very near writing something
for me. Fifteen years ago he told me he was composing a 'Nocturne' for
me. I went off on a concert tour and was away a long time. When I
returned to Paris I wrote to Debussy to find out what had become of my
'Nocturne.' And he replied that, somehow, it had shaped itself up for
orchestra instead of a violin solo. It is one of the _Trois Nocturnes_
for orchestra. Perhaps one reason why so much has been inscribed to me
is the fact that as an interpreting artist, I have never cultivated a
'specialty.' I have played everything from Bach to Debussy, for real art
should be international!"

Ysaye himself has an almost marvelous right-arm and fingerboard control,
which enables him to produce at will the finest and most subtle tonal
nuances in all bowings. Then, too, he overcomes the most intricate
mechanical problems with seemingly effortless ease. And his tone has
well been called "golden." His own definition of tone is worth
recording. He says it should be "In music what the heart suggests, and
the soul expresses!"

                      THE TOOLS OF VIOLIN MASTERY

"With regard to mechanism," Ysaye continued, "at the present day the
tools of violin mastery, of expression, technic, mechanism, are far more
necessary than in days gone by. In fact they are indispensable, if the
spirit is to express itself without restraint. And the greater
mechanical command one has the less noticeable it becomes. All that
suggests effort, awkwardness, difficulty, repels the listener, who more
than anything else delights in a singing violin tone. Vieuxtemps often
said: _Pas de trait pour le trait--chantez, chantez_! (Not runs for the
sake of runs--sing, sing!)

"Too many of the technicians of the present day no longer sing. Their
difficulties--they surmount them more or less happily; but the effect is
too apparent, and though, at times, the listener may be astonished, he
can never be charmed. Agile fingers, sure of themselves, and a perfect
bow stroke are essentials; and they must be supremely able to carry
along the rhythm and poetic action the artist desires. Mechanism
becomes, if anything, more accessible in proportion as its domain is
enriched by new formulas. The violinist of to-day commands far greater
technical resources than did his predecessors. Paganini is accessible to
nearly all players: Vieuxtemps no longer offers the difficulties he did
thirty years ago. Yet the wood-wind, brass and even the string
instruments subsist in a measure on the heritage transmitted by the
masters of the past. I often feel that violin teaching to-day endeavors
to develop the esthetic sense at too early a stage. And in devoting
itself to the _head_ it forgets the _hands_, with the result that the
young soldiers of the violinistic army, full of ardor and courage, are
ill equipped for the great battle of art.

"In this connection there exists an excellent set of _Etudes-Caprices_
by E. Chaumont, which offer the advanced student new elements and
formulas of development. Though in some of them 'the frame is too large
for the picture,' and though difficult from a violinistic point of view,
'they lie admirably well up the neck,' to use one of Vieuxtemps's
expressions, and I take pleasure in calling attention to them.

"When I said that the string instruments, including the violin, subsist
in a measure on the heritage transmitted by the masters of the past, I
spoke with special regard to technic. Since Vieuxtemps there has been
hardly one new passage written for the violin; and this has retarded the
development of its technic. In the case of the piano, men like Godowsky
have created a new technic for their instrument; but although
Saint-Saens, Bruch, Lalo and others have in their works endowed the
violin with much beautiful music, music itself was their first concern,
and not music for the violin. There are no more concertos written for
the solo flute, trombone, etc.--as a result there is no new technical
material added to the resources of these instruments.

"In a way the same holds good of the violin--new works conceived only
from the musical point of view bring about the stagnation of technical
discovery, the invention of new passages, of novel harmonic wealth of
combination is not encouraged. And a violinist owes it to himself to
exploit the great possibilities of his own instrument. I have tried to
find new technical ways and means of expression in my own compositions.
For example, I have written a _Divertiment_ for violin and orchestra in
which I believe I have embodied new thoughts and ideas, and have
attempted to give violin technic a broader scope of life and vigor.

"In the days of Viotti and Rode the harmonic possibilities were more
limited--they had only a few chords, and hardly any chords of the ninth.
But now harmonic material for the development of a new violin technic is
there: I have some violin studies, in ms., which I may publish some day,
devoted to that end. I am always somewhat hesitant about
publishing--there are many things I might publish, but I have seen so
much brought out that was banal, poor, unworthy, that I have always been
inclined to mistrust the value of my own creations rather than fall into
the same error. We have the scale of Debussy and his successors to draw
upon, their new chords and successions of fourths and fifths--for new
technical formulas are always evolved out of and follow after new
harmonic discoveries--though there is as yet no violin method which
gives a fingering for the whole-tone scale. Perhaps we will have to wait
until Kreisler or I will have written one which makes plain the new
flowering of technical beauty and esthetic development which it brings
the violin.

"As to teaching violin, I have never taught violin in the generally
accepted sense of the phrase. But at Godinne, where I usually spent my
summers when in Europe, I gave a kind of traditional course in the works
of Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski and other masters to some forty or fifty
artist-students who would gather there--the same course I look forward
to giving in Cincinnati, to a master class of very advanced pupils. This
was and will be a labor of love, for the compositions of Vieuxtemps and
Wieniawski especially are so inspiring and yet, as a rule, they are so
badly played--without grandeur or beauty, with no thought of the
traditional interpretation--that they seem the piecework of technic

                              VIOLIN MASTERY

"When I take the whole history of the violin into account I feel that
the true inwardness of 'Violin Mastery' is best expressed by a kind of
threefold group of great artists. First, in the order of romantic
expression, we have a trinity made up of Corelli, Viotti and Vieuxtemps.
Then there is a trinity of mechanical perfection, composed of Locatelli,
Tartini and Paganini or, a more modern equivalent, Cesar Thomson,
Kubelik and Burmeister. And, finally, what I might call in the order of
lyric expression, a quartet comprising Ysaye, Thibaud, Mischa Elman and
Sametini of Chicago, the last-named a wonderfully fine artist of the
lyric or singing type. Of course there are qualifications to be made.
Locatelli was not altogether an exponent of technic. And many other fine
artists besides those mentioned share the characteristics of those in
the various groups. Yet, speaking in a general way, I believe that these
groups of attainment might be said to sum up what 'Violin Mastery'
really is. And a violin master? He must be a violinist, a thinker, a
poet, a human being, he must have known hope, love, passion and despair,
he must have run the gamut of the emotions in order to express them all
in his playing. He must play his violin as Pan played his flute!"

In conclusion Ysaye sounded a note of warning for the too ambitious
young student and player. "If Art is to progress, the technical and
mechanical element must not, of course, be neglected. But a boy of
eighteen cannot expect to express that to which the serious student of
thirty, the man who has actually lived, can give voice. If the
violinist's art is truly a great art, it cannot come to fruition in the
artist's 'teens. His accomplishment then is no more than a promise--a
promise which finds its realization in and by life itself. Yet Americans
have the brains as well as the spiritual endowment necessary to
understand and appreciate beauty in a high degree. They can already
point with pride to violinists who emphatically deserve to be called
artists, and another quarter-century of artistic striving may well bring
them into the front rank of violinistic achievement!"


                               LEOPOLD AUER

                         A METHOD WITHOUT SECRETS

When that celebrated laboratory of budding musical genius, the Petrograd
Conservatory, closed its doors indefinitely owing to the disturbed
political conditions of Russia, the famous violinist and teacher
Professor Leopold Auer decided to pay the visit to the United States
which had so repeatedly been urged on him by his friends and pupils. His
fame, owing to such heralds as Efrem Zimbalist, Mischa Elman, Kathleen
Parlow, Eddy Brown, Francis MacMillan, and more recently Sascha Heifetz,
Toscha Seidel, and Max Rosen, had long since preceded him; and the
reception accorded him in this country, as a soloist and one of the
greatest exponents and teachers of his instrument, has been one justly
due to his authority and preeminence.

It was not easy to have a heart-to-heart talk with the Master anent his
art, since every minute of his time was precious. Yet ushered into
his presence, the writer discovered that he had laid aside for the
moment other preoccupations, and was amiably responsive to all
questions, once their object had been disclosed. Naturally, the first
and burning question in the case of so celebrated a pedagogue was: "How
do you form such wonderful artists? What is the secret of your method?"

           [Illustration: LEOPOLD AUER, with hand-written note]

                         A METHOD WITHOUT SECRETS

"I know," said Professor Auer, "that there is a theory somewhat to the
effect that I make a few magic passes with the bow by way of
illustration and--_presto_--you have a Zimbalist or a Heifetz! But the
truth is I have no method--unless you want to call purely natural lines
of development, based on natural principles, a method--and so, of
course, there is no secret about my teaching. The one great point I lay
stress on in teaching is never to kill the individuality of my various
pupils. Each pupil has his own inborn aptitudes, his own personal
qualities as regards tone and interpretation. I always have made an
individual study of each pupil, and given each pupil individual
treatment. And always, always I have encouraged them to develop freely
in their own way as regards inspiration and ideals, so long as this was
not contrary to esthetic principles and those of my art. My idea has
always been to help bring out what nature has already given, rather than
to use dogma to force a student's natural inclinations into channels I
myself might prefer. And another great principle in my teaching, one
which is productive of results, is to demand as much as possible of the
pupil. Then he will give you something!

"Of course the whole subject of violin teaching is one that I look at
from the standpoint of the teacher who tries to make what is already
excellent perfect from the musical and artistic standpoint. I insist on
a perfected technical development in every pupil who comes to me. Art
begins where technic ends. There can be no real art development before
one's technic is firmly established. And a great deal of technical work
has to be done before the great works of violin literature, the sonatas
and concertos, may be approached. In Petrograd my own assistants, who
were familiar with my ideas, prepared my pupils for me. And in my own
experience I have found that one cannot teach by word, by the spoken
explanation, alone. If I have a point to make I explain it; but if my
explanation fails to explain I take my violin and bow, and clear up the
matter beyond any doubt. The word lives, it is true, but often the word
must be materialized by action so that its meaning is clear. There are
always things which the pupil must be shown literally, though
explanation should always supplement illustration. I studied with
Joachim as a boy of sixteen--it was before 1866, when there was still a
kingdom of Hanover in existence--and Joachim always illustrated his
meaning with bow and fiddle. But he never explained the technical side
of what he illustrated. Those more advanced understood without verbal
comment; yet there were some who did not.

"As regards the theory that you can tell who a violinist's teacher is by
the way in which he plays, I do not believe in it. I do not believe that
you can tell an Auer pupil by the manner in which he plays. And I am
proud of it since it shows that my pupils have profited by my
encouragement of individual development, and that they become genuine
artists, each with a personality of his own, instead of violinistic
automats, all bearing a marked family resemblance."

Questioned as to how his various pupils reflected different phases of
his teaching ideals, Professor Auer mentioned that he had long since
given over passing final decisions on his pupils. "I could express no
such opinions without unconsciously implying comparisons. And so few
comparisons really compare! Then, too, mine would be merely an
individual opinion. Therefore, as has been my custom for years, I will
continue to leave any ultimate decisions regarding my pupils' playing to
the public and the press."

                            HOURS OF PRACTICE

"How long should the advanced pupil practice?" Professor Auer was asked.
"The right kind of practice is not a matter of hours," he replied.
"Practice should represent the utmost concentration of brain. It is
better to play with concentration for two hours than to practice eight
without. I should say that four hours would be a good maximum practice
time--I never ask more of my pupils--and that during each minute of the
time the brain be as active as the fingers.


"I think there is more value in the idea of a national conservatory than
in the idea of nationality as regards violin playing. No matter what his
birthplace, there is only one way in which a student can become an
artist--and that is to have a teacher who can teach! In Europe the best
teachers are to be found in the great national conservatories. Thibaud,
Ysaye--artists of the highest type--are products of the conservatory
system, with its splendid teachers. So is Kreisler, one of the greatest
artists, who studied in Vienna and Paris. Eddy Brown, the brilliant
American violinist, finished at the Budapest Conservatory. In the Paris
Conservatory the number of pupils in a class is strictly limited; and
from these pupils each professor chooses the very best--who may not be
able to pay for their course--for free instruction. At the Petrograd
Conservatory, where Wieniawski preceded me, there were hundreds of free
scholarships available. If a really big talent came along he always had
his opportunity. We took and taught those less talented at the
Conservatory in order to be able to give scholarships to the deserving
of limited means. In this way no real violinistic genius, whom poverty
might otherwise have kept from ever realizing his dreams, was deprived
of his chance in life. Among the pupils there in my class, having
scholarships, were Kathleen Parlow, Elman, Zimbalist, Heifetz and

                              VIOLIN MASTERY

"Violin mastery? To me it represents the sum total of accomplishment on
the part of those who live in the history of the Art. All those who may
have died long since, yet the memory of whose work and whose creations
still lives, are the true masters of the violin, and its mastery is the
record of their accomplishment. As a child I remember the well-known
composers of the day were Marschner, Hiller, Nicolai and others--yet
most of what they have written has been forgotten. On the other hand
there are Tartini, Nardini, Paganini, Kreutzer, Dont and Rode--they
still live; and so do Ernst, Sarasate, Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski.
Joachim (incidentally the only great German violinist of whom I
know--and he was a Hungarian!), though he had but few great pupils, and
composed but little, will always be remembered because he, together with
David, gave violin virtuosity a nobler trend, and introduced a higher
ideal in the music played for violin. It is men such as these who always
will remain violin 'masters,' just as 'violin mastery' is defined by
what they have done."


Replying to a question as to the value of the Bach violin sonatas,
Professor Auer said: "My pupils always have to play Bach. I have
published my own revision of them with a New York house. The most
impressive thing about these Bach solo sonatas is they do not need an
accompaniment: one feels it would be superfluous. Bach composed so
rapidly, he wrote with such ease, that it would have been no trouble for
him to supply one had he felt it necessary. But he did not, and he was
right. And they still must be played as he has written them. We have the
'modern' orchestra, the 'modern' piano, but, thank heaven, no 'modern'
violin! Such indications as I have made in my edition with regard to
bowing, fingering, _nuances_ of expression, are more or less in accord
with the spirit of the times; but not a single note that Bach has
written has been changed. The sonatas are technically among the most
difficult things written for the violin, excepting Ernst and Paganini.
Not that they are hard in a modern way: Bach knew nothing of harmonics,
_pizzicati_, scales in octaves and tenths. But his counterpoint, his
fugues--to play them well when the principal theme is sometimes in the
outer voices, sometimes in the inner voices, or moving from one to the
other--is supremely difficult! In the last sonatas there is a larger
number of small movements--- but this does not make them any easier to

"I have also edited the Beethoven sonatas together with Rudolph Ganz. He
worked at the piano parts in New York, while I studied and revised the
violin parts in Petrograd and Norway, where I spent my summers during
the war. There was not so much to do," said Professor Auer modestly, "a
little fingering, some bowing indications and not much else. No reviser
needs to put any indications for _nuance_ and shading in Beethoven. He
was quite able to attend to all that himself. There is no composer who
shows such refinement of _nuance_. You need only to take his quartets
or these same sonatas to convince yourself of the fact. In my Brahms
revisions I have supplied really needed fingerings, bowings, and other
indications! Important compositions on which I am now at work include
Ernst's fine Concerto, Op. 23, the Mozart violin concertos, and
Tartini's _Trille du diable_, with a special cadenza for my pupil,
Toscha Seidel.

                          AS REGARDS "PRODIGIES"

"Prodigies?" said Professor Auer. "The word 'prodigy' when applied to
some youthful artist is always used with an accent of reproach. Public
and critics are inclined to regard them with suspicion. Why? After all,
the important thing is not their youth, but their artistry. Examine the
history of music--you will discover that any number of great masters,
great in the maturity of their genius, were great in its infancy as
well. There are Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Rubinstein, d'Albert, Hofmann,
Scriabine, Wieniawski--they were all 'infant prodigies,' and certainly
not in any objectionable sense. Not that I wish to claim that every
_prodigy_ necessarily becomes a great master. That does not always
follow. But I believe that a musical prodigy, instead of being regarded
with suspicion, has a right to be looked upon as a striking example of a
pronounced natural predisposition for musical art. Of course, full
mental development of artistic power must come as a result of the
maturing processes of life itself. But I firmly believe that every
prodigy represents a valuable musical phenomenon, one deserving of the
keenest interest and encouragement. It does not seem right to me that
when the art of the prodigy is incontestably great, that the mere fact
of his youth should serve as an excuse to look upon him with prejudice,
and even with a certain degree of distrust."


                                EDDY BROWN

                         HUBAY AND AUER: TECHNIC:
                           HINTS TO THE STUDENT

Notwithstanding the fact that Eddy Brown was born in Chicago, Ill., and
that he is so great a favorite with concert audiences in the land of his
birth, the gifted violinist hesitates to qualify himself as a strictly
"American" violinist. As he expresses it: "Musically I was altogether
educated in Europe--I never studied here, because I left this country at
the age of seven, and only returned a few years ago. So I would not like
to be placed in the position of claiming anything under false pretenses!


"With whom did I study? With two famous masters; by a strange
coincidence both Hungarians. First with Jenoe Hubay, at the National
Academy of Music in Budapest, later with Leopold Auer in Petrograd.
Hubay had been a pupil of Vieuxtemps in Brussels, and is a justly
celebrated teacher, very thorough and painstaking in explaining to his
pupils how to do things; but the great difference between Hubay and Auer
is that while Hubay tells a student how to do things, Auer, a
temperamental teacher, literally drags out of him whatever there is in
him, awakening latent powers he never knew he possessed. Hubay is a
splendid builder of virtuosity, and has a fine sense for phrasing. For a
year and a half I worked at nothing but studies with him, giving special
attention to technic. He did not believe in giving too much time to left
hand development, when without adequate bow technic finger facility is
useless. Here he was in accord with Auer, in fact with every teacher
seriously deserving of the name. Hubay was a first-class pedagog, and
under his instruction one could not help becoming a well-balanced and
musicianly player. But there is a higher ideal in violin playing than
mere correctness, and Auer is an inspiring teacher. Hubay has written
some admirable studies, notably twelve studies for the right hand,
though he never stressed technic too greatly. On the other hand, Auer's
most notable contributions to violin literature are his revisions of
such works as the Bach sonatas, the Tschaikovsky Concerto, etc. In a way
it points the difference in their mental attitude: Hubay more concerned
with the technical educational means, one which cannot be overlooked;
Auer more interested in the interpretative, artistic educational end,
which has always claimed his attention. Hubay personally was a _grand
seigneur_, a multi-millionaire, and married to an Hungarian countess. He
had a fine ear for phrasing, could improvise most interesting violin
accompaniments to whatever his pupils played, and beside Rode, Kreutzer
and Fiorillo I studied the concertos and other repertory works with him.
Then there were the conservatory lessons! Attendance at a European
conservatory is very broadening musically. Not only does the individual
violin pupil, for example, profit by listening to his colleagues play in
class: he also studies theory, musical history, the piano, _ensemble_
playing, chamber-music and orchestra. I was concertmaster of the
conservatory orchestra while studying with Hubay. There should be a
national conservatory of music in this country; music in general would
advance more rapidly. And it would help teach American students to
approach the art of violin playing from the right point of view. As it
is, too many want to study abroad under some renowned teacher not,
primarily, with the idea of becoming great artists; but in the hope of
drawing great future commercial dividends from an initial financial
investment. In Art the financial should always be a secondary

"It stands to reason that no matter how great a student's gifts may be,
he can profit by study with a great teacher. This, I think, applies to
all. After I had already appeared in concert at Albert Hall, London, in
1909, where I played the Beethoven Concerto with orchestra, I decided to
study with Auer. When I first came to him he wanted to know why I did
so, and after hearing me play, told me that I did not need any lessons
from him. But I knew that there was a certain 'something' which I wished
to add to my violinistic make-up, and instinctively felt that he alone
could give me what I wanted. I soon found that in many essentials his
ideas coincided with those of Hubay. But I also discovered that Auer
made me develop my individuality unconsciously, placing no undue
restrictions whatsoever upon my manner of expression, barring, of
course, unmusicianly tendencies. When he has a really talented pupil the
Professor gives him of his best. I never gave a thought to technic while
I studied with him--the great things were a singing tone, bowing,
interpretation! I studied Brahms and Beethoven, and though Hubay always
finished with the Bach sonatas, I studied them again carefully with


"At the bottom of all technic lies the scale. And scale practice is the
ladder by means of which all must climb to higher proficiency. Scales,
in single tones and intervals, thirds, sixths, octaves, tenths, with the
incidental changes of position, are the foundation of technic. They
should be practiced slowly, always with the development of tone in mind,
and not too long a time at any one session. No one can lay claim to a
perfected technic who has not mastered the scale. Better a good tone,
even though a hundred mistakes be made in producing it, than a tone that
is poor, thin and without quality. I find the Singer _Fingeruebungen_ are
excellent for muscular development in scale work, for imparting the
great strength which is necessary for the fingers to have; and the
Kreutzer _etudes_ are indispensable. To secure an absolute _legato_
tone, a true singing tone on the violin, one should play scales with a
perfectly well sustained and steady bow, in whole notes, slowly and
_mezzo-forte_, taking care that each note is clear and pure, and that
its volume does not vary during the stroke. The quality of tone must be
equalized, and each whole note should be 'sung' with a single bowing.
The change from up-bow to down-bow and _vice versa_ should be made
without a break, exclusively through skillful manipulation of the wrist.
To accomplish this unbroken change of bow one should cultivate a loose
wrist, and do special work at the extreme ends, nut and tip.

"The _vibrato_ is a great tone beautifier. Too rapid or too slow a
_vibrato_ defeats the object desired. There is a happy medium of
_tempo_, rather faster than slower, which gives the best results. Carl
Flesch has some interesting theories about vibration which are worth
investigating. A slow and a moderately rapid _vibrato, from the wrist_,
is best for practice, and the underlying idea while working must be
tone, and not fingerwork.

_Staccato_ is one of the less important branches of bow technic. There
is a knack in doing it, and it is purely pyrotechnical. _Staccato_
passages in quantity are only to be found in solos of the virtuoso type.
One never meets with extended _staccato_ passages in Beethoven, Brahms,
Bruch or Lalo. And the Saint-Saens's violin concerto, if I remember
rightly, contains but a single _staccato_ passage.

"_Spiccato_ is a very different matter from _staccato_: violinists as a
rule use the middle of the bow for _spiccato_: I use the upper third of
the bow, and thus get most satisfactory results, in no matter what
_tempo_. This question as to what portion of the bow to use for
_spiccato_ each violinist must decide for himself, however, through
experiment. I have tried both ways and find that by the last mentioned
use of the bow I secure quicker, cleaner results. Students while
practicing this bowing should take care that the wrist, and never the
arm, be used. Hubay has written some very excellent studies for this
form of 'springing bow.'

"The trill, when it rolls quickly and evenly, is a trill indeed! I never
had any difficulty in acquiring it, and can keep on trilling
indefinitely without the slightest unevenness or slackening of speed.
Auer himself has assured me that I have a trill that runs on and on
without a sign of fatigue or uncertainty. The trill has to be practiced
very slowly at first, later with increasing rapidity, and always with a
firm pressure of the fingers. It is a very beautiful embellishment, and
one much used; one finds it in Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, etc.

"Double notes never seemed hard to me, but harmonics are not as easily
acquired as some of the other violin effects. I advise pressing down the
first finger on the strings _inordinately_, especially in the higher
positions, when playing artificial harmonics. The higher the fingers
ascend on the strings, the more firmly they should press them, otherwise
the harmonics are apt to grow shrill and lose in clearness. The majority
of students have trouble with their harmonics, because they do not
practice them in this way. Of course the quality of the harmonics
produced varies with the quality of the strings that produce them. First
class strings are an absolute necessity for the production of pure
harmonics. Yet in the case of the artist, he himself is held
responsible, and not his strings.

"Octaves? Occasionally, as in Auer's transcript of Beethoven's _Dance of
the Dervishes_, or in the closing section of the Ernst Concerto, when
they are used to obtain a certain weird effect, they sound well. But
ordinarily, if cleanly played, they sound like one-note successions. In
the examples mentioned, the so-called 'fingered octaves,' which are very
difficult, are employed. Ordinary octaves are not so troublesome. After
all, in octave playing we simply double the notes for the purpose of
making them more powerful.

"As regards the playing of tenths, it seems to me that the interval
always sounds constrained, and hardly ever euphonious enough to justify
its difficulty, especially in rapid passages. Yet Paganini used this
awkward interval very freely in his compositions, and one of his
'Caprices' is a variation in tenths, which should be played more often
than it is, as it is very effective. In this connection change of
position, which I have already touched on with regard to scale playing,
should be so smooth that it escapes notice. Among special effects the
_glissando_ is really beautiful when properly done. And this calls for
judgment. It might be added, though, that the _glissando_ is an effect
which should not be overdone. The _portamento_--gliding from one note to
another--is also a lovely effect. Its proper and timely application
calls for good judgment and sound musical taste.

                            A SPANISH VIOLIN

"I usually play a 'Strad,' but very often turn to my beautiful
'Guillami,'" said Mr. Brown when asked about his violins. "It is an old
Spanish violin, made in Barcelona, in 1728, with a tone that has a
distinct Stradivarius character. In appearance it closely resembles a
Guadagnini, and has often been taken for one. When the dealer of whom I
bought it first showed it to me it was complete--but in four distinct
pieces! Kubelik, who was in Budapest at the time, heard of it and wanted
to buy it; but the dealer, as was only right, did not forget that my
offer represented a prior claim, and so I secured it. The Guadagnini,
which I have played in all my concerts here, I am very fond of--it has a
Stradivarius tone rather than the one we usually associate with the
make." Mr. Brown showed the writer his Grancino, a beautiful little
instrument about to be sent to the repair shop, since exposure to the
damp atmosphere of the sea-shore had opened its seams--and the rare and
valuable Simon bow, now his, which had once been the property of
Sivori. Mr. Brown has used a wire E ever since he broke six gut strings
in one hour while at Seal Harbor, Maine. "A wire string, I find, is not
only easier to play, but it has a more brilliant quality of tone than a
gut string; and I am now so accustomed to using a wire E, that I would
feel ill at ease if I did not have one on my instrument. Contrary to
general belief, it does not sound 'metallic,' unless the string itself
is of very poor quality.


"In making up a recital program I try to arrange it so that the first
half, approximately, may appeal to the more specifically musical part of
my audience, and to the critics. In the second half I endeavor to
remember the general public; at the same time being careful to include
nothing which is not really _musical_. This (Mr. Brown found one of his
recent programs on his desk and handed it to me) represents a logical
compromise between the strictly artistic and the more general taste:"


      I. Beethoven .  .  .  .  . Sonata Op. 47 (dedicated to Kreutzer)

     II. Bruch .  .  .  .  .  .  Concerto (G minor)

     III. (a) Beethoven . .  .  . Romance (in G major)
          (b) Beethoven-Auer  . . Chorus of the Dervishes
          (c) Brown .  .  .  .  . Rondino (on a Cramer theme)
          (d) Arbos .  .  .  .  . Tango

     IV. (a) Kreisler  .  .  .  . La Gitana
         (Arabo-Spanish Gipsy Dance of the 18th Century)
         (b) Cui .  .  .  .  .  . Orientale
         (c) Bazzini.  .  .  .  . La Ronde des Lutins

"As you see there are two extended serious works, followed by two
smaller 'groups' of pieces. And these have also been chosen with a view
to contrast. The _finale_ of the Bruch concerto is an _allegro
energico_: I follow it with a Beethoven _Romance_, a slow movement. The
second group begins with a taking Kreisler novelty, which is succeeded
by another slow number; but one very effective in its working-up; and I
end my program with a brilliant virtuoso number.

                               VIOLIN MASTERY

"My own personal conception of violin mastery," concluded Mr. Brown,
"might be defined as follows: 'An individual tone production, or rather
tone quality, consummate musicianship in phrasing and interpretation,
ability to rise above all mechanical and intellectual effort, and
finally the power to express that which is dictated by one's imagination
and emotion, with the same natural simplicity and spontaneity with which
the thought of a really great orator is expressed in the easy,
unconstrained flow of his language.'"


                              MISCHA ELMAN

                             TECHNICAL PHASES

To hear Mischa Elman on the concert platform, to listen to him play,
"with all that wealth of tone, emotion and impulse which places him in
the very foremost rank of living violinists," should be joy enough for
any music lover. To talk with him in his own home, however, gives one a
deeper insight into his art as an interpreter; and in the pleasant
intimacy of familiar conversation the writer learned much that the
serious student of the violin will be interested in knowing.

          [Illustration: MISCHA ELMAN, with hand-written note]

                          MANNERISMS IN PLAYING

We all know that Elman, when he plays in public, moves his head, moves
his body, sways in time to the music; in a word there are certain
mannerisms associated with his playing which critics have on occasion
mentioned with grave suspicion, as evidences of sensationalism. Half
fearing to insult him by asking whether he was "sincere," or whether his
motions were "stage business" carefully rehearsed, as had been implied,
I still ventured the question. He laughed boyishly and was evidently
much amused.

"No, no," he said. "I do not study up any 'stage business' to help out
my playing! I do not know whether I ought to compare myself to a dancer,
but the appeal of the dance is in all musical movement. Certain rhythms
and musical combinations affect me subconsciously. I suppose the direct
influence of the music on me is such that there is a sort of emotional
reflex: I move with the music in an unconscious translation of it into
gesture. It is all so individual. The French violinists as a rule play
very correctly in public, keeping their eye on finger and bow. And this
appeals to me strongly in theory. In practice I seem to get away from
it. It is a matter of temperament I presume. I am willing to believe I'm
not graceful, but then--I do not know whether I move or do not move!
Some of my friends have spoken of it to me at various times, so I
suppose I do move, and sway and all the rest; but any movements of the
sort must be unconscious, for I myself know nothing of them. And the
idea that they are 'prepared' as 'stage effects' is delightful!" And
again Elman laughed.


"For that matter," he continued, "every real artist has some mannerisms
when playing, I imagine. Yet more than mannerisms are needed to impress
an American audience. Life and color in interpretation are the true
secrets of great art. And beauty of interpretation depends, first of
all, on variety of color. Technic is, after all, only secondary. No
matter how well played a composition be, its performance must have
color, _nuance_, movement, life! Each emotional mood of the moment must
be fully expressed, and if it is its appeal is sure. I remember when I
once played for Don Manuel, the young ex-king of Portugal, in London, I
had an illustration of the fact. He was just a pathetic boy, very
democratic, and personally very likable. He was somewhat neglected at
the time, for it is well known and not altogether unnatural, that
royalty securely established finds 'kings in exile' a bit embarrassing.
Don Manuel was a music-lover, and especially fond of Bach. I had had
long talks with the young king at various times, and my sympathies had
been aroused in his behalf. On the evening of which I speak I played a
Chopin _Nocturne_, and I know that into my playing there went some of my
feeling for the pathos of the situation of this young stranger in a
strange land, of my own age, eating the bitter bread of exile. When I
had finished, the Marchioness of Ripon touched my arm: 'Look at the
King!' she whispered. Don Manuel had been moved to tears.

"Of course the purely mechanical must always be dominated by the
artistic personality of the player. Yet technic is also an important
part of interpretation: knowing exactly how long to hold a bow, the most
delicate inflections of its pressure on the strings. There must be
perfect sympathy also with the composer's thought; his spirit must stand
behind the personality of the artist. In the case of certain famous
compositions, like the Beethoven concerto, for instance, this is so well
established that the artist, and never the composer, is held responsible
if it is not well played. But too rigorous an adherence to 'tradition'
in playing is also an extreme. I once played privately for Joachim in
Berlin: it was the Bach _Chaconne_. Now the edition I used was a
standard one: and Joachim was extremely reverential as regards
traditions. Yet he did not hesitate to indicate some changes which he
thought should be made in the version of an authoritative edition,
because 'they sounded better.' And 'How does it sound?' is really the
true test of all interpretation."

                           PERFECTED TECHNIC

"What is the fundamental of a perfected violin technic?" was a natural
question at this point. "Absolute pitch, first of all," replied Elman
promptly. "Many a violinist plays a difficult passage, sounding every
note; and yet it sounds out of tune. The first and second movements of
the Beethoven concerto have no double-stops; yet they are extremely
difficult to play. Why? Because they call for absolute pitch: they must
be played in perfect tune so that each tone stands out in all its
fullness and clarity like a rock in the sea. And without a fundamental
control of pitch such a master work will always be beyond the
violinist's reach. Many a player has the facility; but without perfect
intonation he can never attain the highest perfection. On the other
hand, any one who can play a single phrase in absolute pitch has the
first and great essential. Few artists, not barring some of the
greatest, play with perfect intonation. Its control depends first of all
on the ear. And a sensitive ear finds differences and shading; it bids
the violinist play a trifle sharper, a trifle flatter, according to the
general harmonic color of the accompaniment; it leads him to observe a
difference, when the harmonic atmosphere demands it, between a C sharp
in the key of E major and a D flat in the same key.

                            TECHNICAL PHASES

"Every player finds some phases of technic easy and others difficult.
For instance, I have never had to work hard for quality of tone--when I
wish to get certain color effects they come: I have no difficulty in
expressing my feelings, my emotions in tone. And in a technical way
_spiccato_ bowing, which many find so hard, has always been easy to me.
I have never had to work for it. Double-stops, on the contrary, cost me
hours of intensive work before I played them with ease and facility.
What did I practice? Scales in double-stops--they give color and variety
to tone. And I gave up a certain portion of my regular practice time to
passages from concertos and sonatas. There is wonderful work in
double-stops in the Ernst concerto and in the Paganini _Etudes_, for
instance. With octaves and tenths I have never had any trouble: I have a
broad hand and a wide stretch, which accounts for it, I suppose.

"Then there are harmonics, flageolets--I, have never been able to
understand why they should be considered so difficult! They should not
be white, colorless; but call for just as much color as any other tones
(and any one who has heard Mischa Elman play harmonics knows that this
is no mere theory on his part). I never think of harmonics as
'harmonics,' but try to give them just as much expressive quality as the
notes of any other register. The mental attitude should influence their
production--too many violinists think of them only as incidental to
pyrotechnical display.

"And fingering? Fingering in general seems to me to be an individual
matter. A concert artist may use a certain fingering for a certain
passage which no pupil should use, and be entirely justified if he can
thus secure a certain effect.

"I do not--speaking out of my own experience--believe much in methods:
and never to the extent that they be allowed to kill the student's
individuality. A clear, clean tone should always be the ideal of his
striving. And to that end he must see that the up and down bows in a
passage like the following from the Bach sonata in A minor (and Mr.
Elman hastily jotted down the subjoined) are absolutely

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

even, and of the same length, played with the same strength and length
of bow, otherwise the notes are swallowed. In light _spiccato_ and
_staccato_ the detached notes should be played always with a single
stroke of the bow. Some players, strange to say, find _staccato_ notes
more difficult to play at a moderate tempo than fast. I believe it to be
altogether a matter of control--if proper control be there the tempo
makes no difference. Wieniawski, I have read, could only play his
_staccati_ at a high rate of speed. _Spiccato_ is generally held to be
more difficult than _staccato_; yet I myself find it easier.

                        PROPORTION IN PRACTICE

"To influence a clear, singing tone with the left hand, to phrase it
properly with the bow hand, is most important. And it is a matter of
proportion. Good phrasing is spoiled by an ugly tone: a beautiful
singing tone loses meaning if improperly phrased. When the student has
reached a certain point of technical development, technic must be a
secondary--yet not neglected--consideration, and he should devote
himself to the production of a good tone. Many violinists have missed
their career by exaggerated attention to either bow or violin hand. Both
hands must be watched at the same time. And the question of proportion
should always be kept in mind in practicing studies and passages:
pressure of fingers and pressure of bow must be equalized, coordinated.
The teacher can only do a certain amount: the pupil must do the rest.

                           AUER AS A TEACHER

"Take Auer for example. I may call myself the first real exponent of his
school, in the sense of making his name widely known. Auer is a great
teacher, and leaves much to the individuality of his pupils. He first
heard me play at the Imperial Music School in Odessa, and took me to
Petrograd to study with him, which I did for a year and four months. And
he could accomplish wonders! That one year he had a little group of four
pupils each one better than the other--a very stimulating situation for
all of them. There was a magnetism about him: he literally hypnotized
his pupils into doing better than their best--though in some cases it
was evident that once the support of his magnetic personality was
withdrawn, the pupil fell back into the level from which he had been
raised for the time being.

"Yet Auer respected the fact that temperamentally I was not responsive
to this form of appeal. He gave me of his best. I never practiced more
than two or three hours a day--just enough to keep fresh. Often I came
to my lesson unprepared, and he would have me play things--sonatas,
concertos--which I had not touched for a year or more. He was a severe
critic, but always a just one.

"I can recall how proud I was when he sent me to beautiful music-loving
Helsingfors, in Finland--where all seems to be bloodshed and confusion
now--to play a recital in his own stead on one occasion, and how proud
he was of my success. Yet Auer had his little peculiarities. I have read
somewhere that the great fencing-masters of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries were very jealous of the secrets of their famous
feints and _ripostes_, and only confided them to favorite pupils who
promised not to reveal them. Auer had his little secrets, too, with
which he was loth to part. When I was to make my _debut_ in Berlin, I
remember, he was naturally enough interested--since I was his pupil--in
my scoring a triumph. And he decided to part with some of his treasured
technical thrusts and parries. And when I was going over the
Tschaikovsky _D minor concerto_ (which I was to play), he would select a
passage and say: 'Now I'll play this for you. If you catch it, well and
good; if not it is your own fault!' I am happy to say that I did not
fail to 'catch' his meaning on any occasion. Auer really has a wonderful
intellect, and some secrets well worth knowing. That he is so great an
artist himself on the instrument is the more remarkable, since
physically he was not exceptionally favored. Often, when he saw me, he'd
say with a sigh: 'Ah, if I only had your hand!'

"Auer was a great virtuoso player. He held a unique place in the
Imperial Ballet. You know in many of the celebrated ballets,
Tschaikovsky's for instance, there occur beautiful and difficult solos
for the violin. They call for an artist of the first rank, and Auer was
accustomed to play them in Petrograd. In Russia it was considered a
decided honor to be called upon to play one of those ballet solos; but
in London it was looked on as something quite incidental. I remember
when Diaghilev presented Tschaikovsky's _Lac des Cygnes_ in London, the
Grand-Duke Andrew Vladimirev (who had heard me play), an amiable young
boy, and a patron of the arts, requested me--and at that time the
request of a Romanov was still equivalent to a command--to play the
violin solos which accompany the love scenes. It was not exactly easy,
since I had to play and watch dancers and conductor at the same time.
Yet it was a novelty for London, however; everybody was pleased and the
Grand-Duke presented me with a handsome diamond pin as an

                            VIOLIN MASTERY

"You ask me what I understand by 'Violin Mastery'? Well, it seems to me
that the artist who can present anything he plays as a distinct
picture, in every detail, framing the composer's idea in the perfect
beauty of his plastic rendering, with absolute truth of color and
proportion--he is the artist who deserves to be called a master!

"Of course, the instrument the artist uses is an important factor in
making it possible for him to do his best. My violin? It is an authentic
Strad--dated 1722. I bought it of Willy Burmester in London. You see he
did not care much for it. The German style of playing is not calculated
to bring out the tone beauty, the quality of the old Italian fiddles. I
think Burmester had forced the tone, and it took me some time to make it
mellow and truly responsive again, but now...." Mr. Elman beamed. It was
evident he was satisfied with his instrument. "As to strings," he
continued, "I never use wire strings--they have no color, no quality!

                         WHAT TO STUDY AND HOW

"For the advanced student there is a wealth of study material. No one
ever wrote more beautiful violin music than Haendel, so rich in
invention, in harmonic fullness. In Beethoven there are more ideas than
tone--but such ideas! Schubert--all genuine, spontaneous! Bach is so
gigantic that the violin often seems inadequate to express him. That is
one reason why I do not play more Bach in public.

"The study of a sonata or concerto should entirely absorb the attention
of the student to such a degree that, as he is able to play it, it has
become a part of him. He should be able to play it as though it were an
improvisation--of course without doing violence to the composer's idea.
If he masters the composition in the way it should be mastered it
becomes a portion of himself. Before I even take up my violin I study a
piece thoroughly in score. I read and reread it until I am at home with
the composer's thought, and its musical balance and proportion. Then,
when I begin to play it, its salient points are already memorized, and
the practicing gives me a kind of photographic reflex of detail. After I
have not played a number for a long time it fades from my memory--like
an old negative--but I need only go over it once or twice to have a
clear mnemonic picture of it once more.

"Yes, I believe in transcriptions for the violin--with certain
provisos," said Mr. Elman, in reply to another question. "First of all
the music to be transcribed must lend itself naturally to the
instrument. Almost any really good melodic line, especially a
_cantilena_, will sound with a fitting harmonic development. Violinists
of former days like Spohr, Rode and Paganini were more intent on
composing music _out of the violin_! The modern idea lays stress first
of all on the _idea_ in music. In transcribing I try to forget I am a
violinist, in order to form a perfect picture of the musical idea--its
violinistic development must be a natural, subconscious working-out. If
you will look at some of my recent transcripts--the Albaniz _Tango_, the
negro melody _Deep River_ and Amani's fine _Orientale_--you will see
what I mean. They are conceived as pictures--I have not tried to analyze
too much--and while so conceiving them their free harmonic background
shapes itself for me without strain or effort.

                       A REMINISCENCE OF COLONNE

"Conductors with whom I have played? There are many: Hans Richter, who
was a master of the baton; Nikisch, one of the greatest in conducting
the orchestral accompaniment to a violin solo number; Colonne of Paris,
and many others. I had an amusing experience with Colonne once. He
brought his orchestra to Russia while I was with Auer, and was giving a
concert at Pavlovsk, a summer resort near Petrograd. Colonne had a
perfect horror of 'infant prodigies,' and Auer had arranged for me to
play with his orchestra without telling him my age--I was eleven at the
time. When Colonne saw me, violin in hand, ready to step on the stage,
he drew himself up and said with emphasis: 'I play with a prodigy!
Never!' Nothing could move him, and I had to play to a piano
accompaniment. After he had heard me play, though, he came over to me
and said: 'The best apology I can make for what I said is to ask you to
do me the honor of playing with the _Orchestre Colonne_ in Paris.' He
was as good as his word. Four months later I went to Paris and played
the Mendelssohn concerto for him with great success."


                             SAMUEL GARDNER

                        TECHNIC AND MUSICIANSHIP

Samuel Gardner, though born in Jelisavetgrad, Cherson province, in
Southern Russia, in 1891, is to all intents and purposes an American,
since his family, fleeing the tyranny of an Imperialistic regime of
"pogroms" and "Black Hundreds," brought him to this country when a mere
child; and here in the United States he has become, to quote Richard
Aldrich, "the serious and accomplished artist," whose work on the
concert stage has given such pleasure to lovers of violin music at its
best. The young violinist, who in the course of the same week had just
won two prizes in composition--the Pulitzer Prize (Columbia) for a
string quartet, and the Loeb Prize for a symphonic poem--was amiably
willing to talk of his study experience for the benefit of other


"I took up the study of the violin at the age of seven, and when I was
nine I went to Charles Martin Loeffler and really began to work
seriously. Loeffler was a very strict teacher and very exacting, but he
achieved results, for he had a most original way of making his points
clear to the student. He started off with the Sevcik studies, laying
great stress on the proper finger articulation. And he taught me
absolute smoothness in change of position when crossing the strings. For
instance, in the second book of Sevcik's 'Technical Exercises,' in the
third exercise, the bow crosses from G to A, and from D to E, leaving a
string between in each crossing. Well, I simply could not manage to get
to the second string to be played without the string in between
sounding! Loeffler showed me what every good fiddler _must_ learn to do:
to leap from the end of the down-bow to the up-bow and _vice versa_ and
then hesitate the fraction of a moment, thus securing a smooth,
clean-cut tone, without any vibration of the intermediate string.
Loeffler never gave a pupil any rest until he came up to his
requirements. I know when I played the seventh and eighth Kreutzer
studies for him--they are trill studies--he said: 'You trill like an
electric bell, but not fast enough!' And he kept at me to speed up my
tempo without loss of clearness or tone-volume, until I could do justice
to a rapid trill. It is a great quality in a teacher to be literally
able to _enforce_ the pupil's progress in certain directions; for though
the latter may not appreciate it at the time, later on he is sure to do
so. I remember once when he was trying to explain the perfect
_crescendo_ to me, fire-engine bells began to ring in the distance, the
sound gradually drawing nearer the house in Charles Street where I was
taking my lesson. 'There you have it!' Loeffler cried: 'There's your
ideal _crescendo_! Play it like that and I will be satisfied!' I
remained with Loeffler a year and a half, and when he went to Paris
began to study with Felix Winternitz.

"Felix Winternitz was a teacher who allowed his pupils to develop
individuality. 'I care nothing for theories,' he used to say, 'so long
as I can see something original in your work!' He attached little
importance to the theory of technic, but a great deal to technical
development along individual lines. And he always encouraged me to
express myself freely, within my limitations, stressing the musical side
of my work. With him I played through the concertos which, after a time,
I used for technical material, since every phase of technic and bowing
is covered in these great works. I was only fifteen when I left
Winternitz and still played by instinct rather than intellectually. I
still used my bow arm somewhat stiffly, and did not think much about
phrasing. I instinctively phrased whatever the music itself made clear
to me, and what I did not understand I merely played.

                       KNEISEL'S TEACHING METHODS

"But when I came to Franz Kneisel, my last teacher, I began to work with
my mind. Kneisel showed me that I had to think when I played. At first I
did not realize why he kept at me so insistently about phrasing,
interpretation, the exact observance of expression marks; but eventually
it dawned on me that he was teaching me to read a soul into each
composition I studied.

"I practiced hard, from four to five hours a day. Fortunately, as
regards technical equipment, I was ready for Kneisel's instruction. The
first thing he gave me to study was, not a brilliant virtuoso piece, but
the Bach concerto in E major, and then the Viotti concerto. In the
beginning, until Kneisel showed me, I did not know what to do with them.
This was music whose notes in themselves were easy, and whose
difficulties were all of an individual order. But intellectual analysis,
interpretation, are Kneisel's great points. A strict teacher, I worked
with him for five years, the most remarkable years of all my violin

"Kneisel knows how to develop technical perfection without using
technical exercises. I had already played the Mendelssohn, Bruch and
Lalo concertos with Winternitz, and these I now restudied with Kneisel.
In interpretation he makes clear every phrase in its relation to every
other phrase and the movement as a whole. And he insists on his pupils
studying theory and composition--something I had formerly not been
inclined to take seriously.

"Some teachers are satisfied if the student plays his _notes_ correctly,
in a general way. With Kneisel the very least detail, a trill, a scale,
has to be given its proper tone-color and dynamic shading in absolute
proportion with the balancing harmonies. This trill, in the first
movement of the Beethoven concerto--(and Mr. Gardner jotted it down)

                    [Illustration: Musical Notation]

Kneisel kept me at during the entire lesson, till I was able to adjust
its tone-color and _nuances_ to the accompanying harmony. Then, though
many teachers do not know it, it is a tradition in the orchestra to make
a _diminuendo_ in the sixth measure, before the change of key to C
major, and this _diminuendo_ should, of course, be observed by the solo
instrument as well. Yet you will hear well-known artists play the trill
throughout with a loud, brilliant tone and no dynamic change!

"Kneisel makes it a point to have all his pupils play chamber music
because of its truly broadening influence. And he is unexcelled in
taking apart structurally the Beethoven, Brahms, Tschaikovsky and other
quartets, in analyzing and explaining the wonderful planning and
building up of each movement. I had the honor of playing second violin
in the Kneisel Quartet from September to February (1914-1915), at the
outbreak of the war, a most interesting experience. The musicianship
Kneisel had given me; I was used to his style and at home with his
ideas, and am happy to think that he was satisfied. A year later as
assistant concertmaster in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, I had a
chance to become practically acquainted with the orchestral works of
Strauss, d'Indy and other moderns, and enjoy the Beethoven, Brahms and
Tschaikovsky symphonies as a performer.

                        TECHNIC AND MUSICIANSHIP

"How do I regard technic now? I think of it in the terms of the music
itself. Music should dictate the technical means to be used. The
composition and its phrases should determine bowing and the tone quality
employed. One should not think of down-bows or up-bows. In the Brahms
concerto you can find many long phrases: they cannot be played with one
bow; yet there must be no apparent change of bow. If the player does not
know what the phrase means; how to interpret it, how will he be able to
bow it correctly?

"And there are so many different _nuances_, especially in _legato_. It
is as a rule produced by a slurred bow; yet it may also be produced by
other bowings. To secure a good _legato_ tone watch the singer. The
singer can establish the perfect smoothness that _legato_ calls for to
perfection. To secure a like effect the violinist should convey the
impression that there is no point, no frog, that the bow he uses is of
indefinite length. And the violinist should never think: 'I must play
this up-bow or down-bow.' Artists of the German school are more apt to
begin a phrase with a down-bow; the French start playing a good deal at
the point. Up or down, both are secondary to finding out, first of all,
what quality, what balance of tone the phrase demands. The conductor of
a symphonic orchestra does not care how, technically, certain effects
are produced by the violins, whether they use an up-bow or a down-bow.
He merely says: 'That's too heavy: give me less tone!' The result to be
achieved is always more important than the manner of achievement.

"All phases of technical accomplishment, if rightly acquired, tend to
become second nature to the player in the course of time: _staccato_, a
brilliant trick; _spiccato_, the reiteration of notes played from the
wrist, etc. The _martellato_, a _nuance_ of _spiccato_, should be played
with a firm bowing at the point. In a very broad _spiccato_, the arm
may be brought into play; but otherwise not, since it makes rapid
playing impossible. Too many amateurs try to play _spiccato_ from the
arm. And too many teachers are contented with a trill that is merely
brilliant. Kneisel insists on what he calls a 'musical trill,' of which
Kreisler's beautiful trill is a perfect example. The trill of some
violinists is _invariably_ brilliant, whether brilliancy is appropriate
or not. Brilliant trills in Bach always seem out of place to me; while
in Paganini and in Wieniawski's _Carnaval de Venise_ a high brilliant
trill is very effective.

"As to double-stops--Edison once said that violin music should be
written only in double-stops--I practice them playing first the single
notes and then the two together, and can recommend this mode of practice
from personal experience. Harmonics, where clarity is the most important
thing, are mainly a matter of bowing, of a sure attack and sustaining by
the bow. Of course the harmonics themselves are made by the fingers; but
their tone quality rests altogether with the bow.

                          EDISON AND OCTAVES

"The best thing I've ever heard said of octaves was Edison's remark to
me that 'They are merely a nuisance and should not be played!' I was
making some records for him during the experimental stage of the disk
record, when he was trying to get an absolutely smooth _legato_ tone,
one that conformed to Loeffler's definition of it as 'no breaks' in the
tone. He had had Schubert's _Ave Maria_ recorded by Flesch, MacMillan
and others, and wanted me to play it for him. The records were all
played for me, and whenever he came to the octave passages Edison would
say: 'Listen to them! How badly they sound!' Yet the octaves were
absolutely in tune! 'Why do they sound so badly?' I inquired.

"Then Edison explained to me that according to the scientific theory of
vibration, the vibrations of the higher tone of the octaves should be
exactly twice those of the lower note. 'But here,' he continued, 'the
vibrations of the notes all vary.' 'Yet how can the player control his
fingers in the _vibrato_ beyond playing his octaves in perfect tune?' I
asked. 'Well, if he cannot do so,' said Edison, 'octaves are merely a
nuisance, and should not be played at all.' I experimented and found
that by simply pressing down the fingers and playing without any
_vibrato_, I could come pretty near securing the exact relation between
the vibrations of the upper and lower notes but--they sounded dreadful!
Of course, octaves sound well in _ensemble_, especially in the
orchestra, because each player plays but a single note. And tenths sound
even better than octaves when two people play them.

                          WIRE AND GUT STRINGS

"You ask about my violin? It belonged to the famous Hawley collection,
and is a Giovanni Baptista Guadignini, made in 1780, in Turin. The back
is a single piece of maple-wood, having a broadish figure extending
across its breadth. The maple-wood sides match the back. The top is
formed of a very choice piece of spruce, and it is varnished a deep
golden-red. It has a remarkably fine tone, very vibrant and with great
carrying power, a tone that has all that I can ask for as regards volume
and quality.

"I think that wire strings are largely used now-a-days because gut
strings are hard to obtain--not because they are better. I do not use
wire strings. I have tried them and find them thin in tone, or so
brilliant that their tone is too piercing. Then, too, I find that the
use of a wire E reduces the volume of tone of the other strings. No
wire string has the quality of a fine gut string; and I regard them only
as a substitute in the case of some people, and a convenience for lazy

                            VIOLIN MASTERY

"Violin Mastery? Off-hand I might say the phrase stands for a life-time
of effort with its highest aims unattained. As I see it the achievement
of violin mastery represents a combination of 90 per cent. of toil and
10 per cent. of talent or inspiration. Goetschius, with whom I studied
composition, once said to me: 'I do not congratulate you on having
talent. That is a gift. But I do congratulate you on being able to work
hard!' The same thing applies to the fiddle. It seems to me that only by
keeping everlastingly at it can one become a master of the instrument."


                            ARTHUR HARTMANN

                        THE PROBLEM OF TECHNIC

Arthur Hartmann is distinctly and unmistakably a personality. He stands
out even in that circle of distinguished contemporary violinists which
is so largely made up of personalities. He is a composer--not only of
violin pieces, but of symphonic and choral works, chamber music, songs
and piano numbers. His critical analysis of Bach's _Chaconne_,
translated into well-nigh every tongue, is probably the most complete
and exhaustive study of "that triumph of genius over matter" written.
And besides being a master of his own instrument he plays the _viola
d'amore_, that sweet-toned survival, with sympathetic strings, of the
17th century viol family, and the Hungarian _czimbalom_. Nor is his
mastery of the last-named instrument "out of drawing," for we must
remember that Mr. Hartmann was born in Mate Szalka, in Southern Hungary.
Then, too, Mr. Hartmann is a genial and original thinker, a
_litterateur_ of no mean ability, a bibliophile, the intimate of the
late Claude Debussy, and of many of the great men of musical Europe. Yet
from the reader's standpoint the interest he inspires is, no doubt,
mainly due to the fact that not only is he a great interpreting
artist--but a great artist doubled by a great teacher, an unusual

     [Illustration: _Photo by E.F. Foley, N.Y._ ARTHUR HARTMANN,
                        with hand-written note]

Characteristic of Mr. Hartmann's hospitality (the writer had passed a
pleasant hour with him some years before, but had not seen him since),
was the fact that he insisted in brewing Turkish coffee, and making his
caller feel quite at home before even allowing him to broach the subject
of his visit. And when he learned that its purpose was to draw on his
knowledge and experience for information which would be of value to the
serious student and lover of his art, he did not refuse to respond.

                     WHAT VIOLIN PLAYING REALLY IS

"Violin playing is really no abstract mystery. It's as clear as
geography in a way: one might say the whole art is bounded on the South
by the G string, on the North by the E string, on the West by the
string hand--and that's about as far as the comparison may be carried
out. The point is, there are definite boundaries, whose technical and
esthetic limits may be extended, and territorial annexations made
through brain power, mental control. To me 'Violin Mastery' means taking
this little fiddle-box in hand [and Mr. Hartmann suited action to word
by raising the lid of his violin-case and drawing forth his beautiful
1711 Strad], and doing just what I want with it. And that means having
the right finger on the right place at the right time--but don't forget
that to be able to do this you must have forgotten to think of your
fingers as fingers. They should be simply unconscious slaves of the
artist's psychic expression, absolutely subservient to his ideal. Too
many people reverse the process and become slaves to their fingers.

                         THE PROBLEM OF TECHNIC

"Technic, for instance, in its mechanical sense, is a much exaggerated
microbe of _Materia musica_. All technic must conform to its
instrument.[A] The violin was made to suit the hand, not the hand to
suit the violin, hence its technic must be based on a natural logic of
hand movement. The whole problem of technical control is encountered in
the first change of position on the violin. If we violinists could play
in but one position there would be no technical problem. The solution of
this problem means, speaking broadly, the ability to play the
violin--for there is only one way of playing it--with a real, full,
singing 'violin' tone. It's not a question of a method, but just a
process based on pure reason, the working out of rational principles.

[Footnote A: This is the idea which underlies my system for ear-training
and absolute pitch, "Arthur Hartmann's System," as I call it, which I
have published. A.H.]

"What is the secret of this singing tone? Well, you may call it a
secret, for many of my pupils have no inkling of it when they first come
here, though it seems very much of an 'open secret' to me. The finished
beauty of the violin 'voice' is a round, sustained, absolutely smooth
_cantabile_ tone. Now [Mr. Hartmann took up his Strad], I'll play you
the scale of G as the average violin student plays it. You see--each
slide from one tone to the next, a break--a rosary of lurches! How can
there be a round, harmonious tone when the fingers progress by jerks?
Shifting position must not be a continuous movement of effort, but a
continuous movement in which effort and relaxation--that of dead
weight--alternate. As an illustration, when we walk we do not
consciously set down one foot, and then swing forward the other foot and
leg with a jerk. The forward movement is smooth, unconscious,
coordinated: in putting the foot forward it carries the weight of the
entire body, the movement becomes a matter of instinct. And the same
applies to the progression of the fingers in shifting the position of
the hand. Now, playing the scale as I now do--only two fingers should be

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

I prepare every shift. Absolute accuracy of intonation and a singing
legato is the result. These guiding notes indicated are merely a test to
prove the scientific spacing of the violin; they are not sounded once
control of the hand has been obtained. _They serve only to accustom the
fingers to keep moving in the direction in which they are going_.

"The tone is produced by the left hand, by the weight of the fingers
plus an undercurrent of sustained effort. Now, you see, _if in the
moment of sliding you prepare the bow for the next string, the slide
itself is lost in the crossing of the bow_. To carry out consistently
this idea of effort and relaxation in the downward progression of the
scale, you will find that when you are in the third position, the
position of the hand is practically the same as in the first position.
Hence, in order to go down from third to first position with the hand in
what might be called a 'block' position, another movement is called for
to bridge over this space (between third and first position), and this
movement is the function of the thumb. The thumb, preceding the hand,
relaxes the wrist and helps draw the hand back to first position. But
great care must be taken that the thumb is not moved until the first
finger will have been played; otherwise there will be a tendency to
flatten. In the illustration the indication for the thumb is placed
after the note played by the first finger.

"The inviolable law of beautiful playing is that there must be no
angles. As I have shown you, right and left hand cooerdinate. The fiddle
hand is preparing the change of position, while the change of strings is
prepared by the right hand. And always the slides in the left hand are
prepared by the last played finger--_the last played finger is the true
guide to smooth progression_--just as the bow hand prepares the slides
in the last played bowing. There should be no such thing as jumping and
trusting in Providence to land right, and a curse ought to be laid on
those who let their fingers leave the fingerboard. None who develop this
fundamental aspect of all good playing lose the perfect control of

"Of course there are a hundred _nuances_ of technic (into which the
quality of good taste enters largely) that one could talk of at length:
phrasing, and the subtle things happening in the bow arm that influence
it; _spiccato_, whose whole secret is finding the right point of balance
in the bow and, with light finger control, never allowing it to leave
the string. I've never been able to see the virtue of octaves or the
logic of double-stops. Like tenths, one plays or does not play them. But
do they add one iota of beauty to violin music? I doubt it! And, after
all, it is the poetry of playing that counts. All violin playing in its
essence is the quest for color; its perfection, that subtle art which
hides art, and which is so rarely understood."

"Could you give me a few guiding rules, a few Beatitudes, as it were,
for the serious student to follow?" I asked Mr. Hartmann. Though the
artist smiled at the idea of Beatitudes for the violinist, yet he was
finally amiable enough to give me the following, telling me I would have
to take them for what they were worth:


"Blessed are they who early in life approach Bach, for their love and
veneration for music will multiply with the years.

"Blessed are they who remember their own early struggles, for their
merciful criticism will help others to a greater achievement and
furtherance of the Divine Art.

"Blessed are they who know their own limitations, for they shall have
joy in the accomplishment of others.

"Blessed are they who revere the teachers--their own or those of
others--and who remember them with credit.

"Blessed are they who, revering the old masters, seek out the newer ones
and do not begrudge them a hearing or two.

"Blessed are they who work in obscurity, nor sound the trumpet, for Art
has ever been for the few, and shuns the vulgar blare of ignorance.

"Blessed are they whom men revile as futurists and modernists, for Art
can evolve only through the medium of iconoclastic spirits.

"Blessed are they who unflinchingly serve their Art, for thus only is
their happiness to be gained.

"Blessed are they who have many enemies, for square pegs will never fit
into round holes."


Arthur Hartmann, like Kreisler, Elman, Maud Powell and others of his
colleagues, has enriched the literature of the violin with some notably
fine transcriptions. And it is a subject on which he has well-defined
opinions and regarding which he makes certain distinctions: "An
'arrangement,'" he said, "as a rule, is a purely commercial affair, into
which neither art nor aesthetics enter. It usually consists in writing
off the melody of a song--in other words, playing the 'tune' on an
instrument instead of hearing it sung with words--or in the case of a
piano composition, in writing off the upper voice, leaving the rest
intact, regardless of sonority, tone-color or even effectiveness, and,
furthermore, without consideration of the idiomatic principles of the
instrument to which the adaptation was meant to fit.

"A 'transcription,' on the other hand, can be raised to the dignity of
an art-work. Indeed, at times it may even surpass the original, in the
quality of thought brought into the work, the delicate and sympathetic
treatment and by the many subtleties* which an artist can introduce to
make it thoroughly a _re-creation_ of his chosen instrument.

    *Transcriber's note: Original text read "subleties".

"It is the transcriber's privilege--providing he be sufficiently the
artist to approach the personality of another artist with reverence--to
donate his own gifts of ingenuity, and to exercise his judgment in
either adding, omitting, harmonically or otherwise embellishing the work
(_while preserving the original idea and characteristics_), so as to
thoroughly _re-create_ it, so completely destroying the very sensing of
the original _timbre_ that one involuntarily exclaims, 'Truly, this
never was anything but a violin piece!' It is this, the blending and
fusion of two personalities in the achievement of an art-ideal, that is
the result of a true adaptation.

"Among the transcriptions I have most enjoyed making were those of
Debussy's _Il pleure dans mon coeur_, and _La Fille aux cheveaux de
lin_. Debussy was my cherished friend, and they represent a labor of
love. Though Debussy was not, generally speaking, an advocate of
transcriptions, he liked these, and I remember when I first played _La
Fille aux cheveaux de lin_ for him, and came to a bit of counterpoint I
had introduced in the violin melody, whistling the harmonics, he nodded
approvingly with a '_pas bete ca!_' (Not stupid, that!)

                      DEBUSSY'S POEME FOR VIOLIN

"Debussy came near writing a violin piece for me once!" continued Mr.
Hartmann, and brought out a folio containing letters the great
impressionist had written him. They were a delightful revelation of the
human side of Debussy's character, and Mr. Hartmann kindly consented to
the quotation of one bearing on the _Poeme_ for violin which Debussy had
promised to write for him, and which, alas, owing to his illness and
other reasons, never actually came to be written:

     "Dear Friend:

     "Of course I am working a great deal now, because I feel
     the need of writing music, and would find it difficult
     to build an aeroplane; yet at times Music is ill-natured,
     even toward those who love her most! Then I take my
     little daughter and my hat and go walking in the Bois de
     Boulogne, where one meets people who have come from afar
     to bore themselves in Paris.

     "I think of you, I might even say I am in need of you
     (assume an air of exaltation and bow, if you please!) As
     to the _Poeme_ for violin, you may rest assured that I
     will write it. Only at the present moment I am so
     preoccupied with the 'Fall of the House of Usher!' They
     talk too much to me about it. I'll have to put an end to
     all that or I will go mad. Once more I want to write it,
     and above all _on your account_. And I believe you will
     be the only one to play the _Poeme_. Others will attempt
     it, and then quickly return to the Mendelssohn Concerto!

     "Believe me always your sincere friend,

                                         "CLAUDE DEBUSSY."

"He never did write it," said Mr. Hartmann, "but it was not for want of
good will. As to other transcriptions, I have never done any that I did
not feel instinctively would make good fiddle pieces, such as
MacDowell's _To a Wild Rose_ and others of his compositions. And
recently I have transcribed some fine Russian things--Gretchaninoff's
_Chant d'Automne_, Karagitscheff's _Exaltation_, Tschaikovsky's
_Humoresque_, Balakirew's _Chant du Pecheur_, and Poldini's little
_Poupee valsante_, which Maud Powell plays so delightfully on all her


                              JASCHA HEIFETZ

                          TECHNICAL MASTERY AND

Mature in virtuosity--the modern virtuosity which goes so far beyond the
mere technical mastery that once made the term a reproach--though young
in years, Jascha Heifetz, when one makes his acquaintance "off-stage,"
seems singularly modest about the great gifts which have brought him
international fame. He is amiable, unassuming and--the best proof,
perhaps, that his talent is a thing genuine and inborn, not the result
of a forcing process--he has that broad interest in art and in life
going far beyond his own particular medium, the violin, without which no
artist may become truly great. For Jascha Heifetz, with his wonderful
record of accomplishment achieved, and with triumphs still to come
before him, does not believe in "all work and no play."

        [Illustration: JASCHA HEIFETZ, with hand-written note]


He laughed when I put forward the theory that he worked many hours a
day, perhaps as many as six or eight? "No," he said, "I do not think I
could ever have made any progress if I had practiced six hours a day. In
the first place I have never believed in practicing too much--it is just
as bad as practicing too little! And then there are so many other things
I like to do. I am fond of reading and I like sport: tennis, golf,
bicycle riding, boating, swimming, etc. Often when I am supposed to be
practicing hard I am out with my camera, taking pictures; for I have
become what is known as a 'camera fiend.' And just now I have a new car,
which I have learned to drive, and which takes up a good deal of my
time. I have never believed in grinding. In fact I think that if one has
to work very hard to get his piece, it will show in the execution. To
interpret music properly, it is necessary to eliminate mechanical
difficulty; the audience should not feel the struggle of the artist with
what are considered hard passages. I hardly ever practice more than
three hours a day on an average, and besides, I keep my Sunday when I
do not play at all, and sometimes I make an extra holiday. As to six or
seven hours a day, I would not have been able to stand it at all."

I implied that what Mr. Heifetz said might shock thousands of aspiring
young violinists for whom he pointed a moral: "Of course," his answer
was, "you must not take me too literally. Please do not think because I
do not favor overdoing practicing that one can do without it. I'm quite
frank to say I could not myself. But there is a happy medium. I suppose
that when I play in public it looks easy, but before I ever came on the
concert stage I worked very hard. And I do yet--but always putting the
two things together, mental work and physical work. And when a certain
point of effort is reached in practice, as in everything else, there
must be relaxation.


"Have I what is called a 'natural' technic? It is hard for me to say,
perhaps so. But if such is the case I had to develop it, to assure it,
to perfect it. If you start playing at three, as I did, with a little
violin one-quarter of the regular size, I suppose violin playing becomes
second nature in the course of time. I was able to find my way about in
all seven positions within a year's time, and could play the Kayser
_etudes_; but that does not mean to say I was a virtuoso by any means.

"My first teacher? My first teacher was my father, a good violinist and
concertmaster of the Vilna Symphony Orchestra. My first appearance in
public took place in an overcrowded auditorium of the Imperial Music
School in Vilna, Russia, when I was not quite five. I played the
_Fantaisie Pastorale_ with piano accompaniment. Later, at the age of
six, I played the Mendelssohn concerto in Kovno to a full house.
Stage-fright? No, I cannot say I have ever had it. Of course, something
may happen to upset one before a concert, and one does not feel quite at
ease when first stepping on the stage; but then I hope that is not

"At the Imperial Music School in Vilna, and before, I worked at all the
things every violinist studies--I think that I played almost everything.
I did not work too hard, but I worked hard enough. In Vilna my teacher
was Malkin, a pupil of Professor Auer, and when I had graduated from the
Vilna school I went to Auer. Did I go directly to his classes? Well,
no, but I had only a very short time to wait before I joined the
classes conducted by Auer personally.

                       PROFESSOR AUER AS A TEACHER

"Yes, he is a wonderful and an incomparable teacher; I do not believe
there is one in the world who can possibly approach him. Do not ask me
just how he does it, for I would not know how to tell you. But he is
different with each pupil--perhaps that is one reason he is so great a
teacher. I think I was with Professor Auer about six years, and I had
both class lessons and private lessons of him, though toward the end my
lessons were not so regular. I never played exercises or technical works
of any kind for the Professor, but outside of the big things--the
concertos and sonatas, and the shorter pieces which he would let me
prepare--I often chose what I wanted.

"Professor Auer was a very active and energetic teacher. He was never
satisfied with a mere explanation, unless certain it was understood. He
could always show you himself with his bow and violin. The Professor's
pupils were supposed to have been sufficiently advanced in the technic
necessary for them to profit by his wonderful lessons in
interpretation. Yet there were all sorts of technical _finesses_ which
he had up his sleeve, any number of fine, subtle points in playing as
well as interpretation which he would disclose to his pupils. And the
more interest and ability the pupil showed, the more the Professor gave
him of himself! He is a very great teacher! Bowing, the true art of
bowing, is one of the greatest things in Professor Auer's teaching. I
know when I first came to the Professor, he showed me things in bowing I
had never learned in Vilna. It is hard to describe in words (Mr. Heifetz
illustrated with some of those natural, unstrained movements of arm and
wrist which his concert appearances have made so familiar), but bowing
as Professor Auer teaches it is a very special thing; the movements of
the bow become more easy, graceful, less stiff.

"In class there were usually from twenty-five to thirty pupils. Aside
from what we each gained individually from the Professor's criticism and
correction, it was interesting to hear the others who played before
one's turn came, because one could get all kinds of hints from what
Professor Auer told them. I know I always enjoyed listening to Poliakin,
a very talented violinist, and Cecile Hansen, who attended the classes
at the same time I did. The Professor was a stern and very exacting, but
a sympathetic, teacher. If our playing was not just what it should be he
always had a fund of kindly humor upon which to draw. He would
anticipate our stock excuses and say: 'Well, I suppose you have just had
your bow rehaired!' or 'These new strings are very trying,' or 'It's the
weather that is against you again, is it not?' or something of the kind.
Examinations were not so easy: we had to show that we were not only
soloists, but also sight readers of difficult music.

                          A DIFFICULTY OVERCOME

"The greatest technical difficulty I had when I was studying?" Jascha
Heifetz tried to recollect, which was natural, seeing that it must have
been one long since overcome. Then he remembered, and smiled:
"_Staccato_ playing. To get a good _staccato_, when I first tried seemed
very hard to me. When I was younger, really, at one time I had a very
poor _staccato_!" [I assured the young artist that any one who heard him
play here would find it hard to believe this.] "Yes, I did," he
insisted, "but one morning, I do not know just how it was--I was
playing the _cadenza_ in the first movement of Wieniawski's F{~MUSIC SHARP SIGN~} minor
concerto,--it is full of _staccatos_ and double stops--the right way of
playing _staccato_ came to me quite suddenly, especially after Professor
Auer had shown me his method.

                              VIOLIN MASTERY

"Violin Mastery? To me it means the ability to make the violin a
perfectly controlled instrument guided by the skill and intelligence of
the artist, to compel it to respond in movement to his every wish. The
artist must always be superior to his instrument, it must be his
servant, one that he can do with what he will.


"It appears to me that mastery of the technic of the violin is not so
much of a mechanical accomplishment as it is of mental nature. It may be
that scientists can tell us how through persistency the brain succeeds
in making the fingers and the arms produce results through the infinite
variety of inexplicable vibrations. The sweetness of tone, its
melodiousness, its _legatos_, octaves, trills and harmonics all bear
the mark of the individual who uses his strings like his vocal chords.
When an artist is working over his harmonics, he must not be impatient
and force purity, pitch, or the right intonation. He must coax the tone,
try it again and again, seek for improvements in his fingering as well
as in his bowing at the same time, and sometimes he may be surprised
how, quite suddenly, at the time when he least expects it, the result
has come. More than one road leads to Rome! The fact is that when you
get it, you have it, that's all! I am perfectly willing to disclose to
the musical profession all the secrets of the mastery of violin technic;
but are there any secrets in the sense that some of the uninitiated take
them? If an artist happens to excel in some particular, he is at once
suspected of knowing some secret means of so doing. However, that may
not be the case. He does it just because it is in him, and as a rule he
accomplishes this through his mental faculties more than through his
mechanical abilities. I do not intend to minimize the value of great
teachers who prove to be important factors in the life of a musician;
but think of the vast army of pupils that a master teacher brings
forth, and listen to the infinite variety of their _spiccatos_,
octaves, _legatos_, and trills! For the successful mastery of violin
technic let each artist study carefully his own individuality, let him
concentrate his mental energy on the quality of pitch he intends to
produce, and sooner or later he will find his way of expressing himself.
Music is not only in the fingers or in the elbow. It is in that
mysterious EGO of the man, it is his soul; and his body is like his
violin, nothing but a tool. Of course, the great master must have the
tools that suit him best, and it is the happy combination that makes for

"By the vibrations and modulations of the notes one may recognize the
violinist as easily as we recognize the singer by his voice. Who can
explain how the artist harmonizes the trilling of his fingers with the
emotions of his soul?

"An artist will never become great through mere imitation, and never
will he be able to attain the best results only by methods adopted by
others. He must have his own initiative, although he will surely profit
by the experience of others. Of course there are standard ways of
approaching the study of violin technic; but these are too well known to
dwell upon them: as to the niceties of the art, they must come from
within. You can make a musician but not an artist!

                          REPERTORY AND PROGRAMS

"Which of the master works do I like best? Well, that is rather hard to
answer. Each master work has its own beauties. Naturally one likes best
what one understands best, I prefer to play the classics like Brahms,
Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Mendelssohn, etc. However, I played Bruch's G
minor in 1913 at the Leipzig Gewandhouse with Nikisch, where I was told
that Joachim was the only other violinist as young as myself to appear
there as soloist with orchestra; there is the Tschaikovsky concerto
which I played in Berlin in 1912, with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
with Nikisch. Alsa Bruch's D minor and many more. I played the
Mendelssohn concerto in 1914, in Vienna, with Safonoff as conductor.
Last season in Chicago I played the Brahms concerto with a fine and very
elaborate _cadenza_ by Professor Auer. I think the Brahms concerto for
violin is like Chopin's music for piano, in a way, because it stands
technically and musically for something quite different and distinct
from other violin music, just as Chopin does from other piano music. The
Brahms concerto is not technically as hard as, say, Paganini--but in
interpretation!... And in the Beethoven concerto, too, there is a
simplicity, a kind of clear beauty which makes it far harder to play
than many other things technically more advanced. The slightest flaw,
the least difference in pitch, in intonation, and its beauty suffers.

"Yes, there are other Russian concertos besides the Tschaikovsky. There
is the Glazounov concerto and others. I understand that Zimbalist was
the first to introduce it in this country, and I expect to play it here
next season.

"Of course one cannot always play concertos, and one cannot always play
Bach and Beethoven. And that makes it hard to select programs. The
artist can always enjoy the great music of his instrument; but an
audience wants variety. At the same time an artist cannot play only just
what the majority of the audience wants. I have been asked to play
Schubert's _Ave Maria_, or Beethoven's _Chorus of Dervishes_ at every
one of my concerts, but I simply cannot play them all the time. I am
afraid if program making were left altogether to audiences the programs
would become far too popular in character; though audiences are just as
different as individuals. I try hard to balance my programs, so that
every one can find something to understand and enjoy. I expect to
prepare some American compositions for next season. Oh, no, not as a
matter of courtesy, but because they are really fine, especially some
smaller pieces by Spalding, Cecil Burleigh and Grasse!"

On concluding our interview Mr. Heifetz made a remark which is worth
repeating, and which many a music lover who is _plus royaliste que le
roi_ might do well to remember: "After all," he said, "much as I love
music, I cannot help feeling that music is not the only thing in life. I
really cannot imagine anything more terrible than always to hear, think
and make music! There is so much else to know and appreciate; and I feel
that the more I learn and know of other things the better artist I will


                            DAVID HOCHSTEIN

                        AND EXPRESSIVE PLAYING

The writer talked with Lieutenant David Hochstein, whose death in the
battle of the Argonne Forest was only reported toward the end of
January, while the distinguished young violinist, then only a sergeant,
was on the eve of departure to France with his regiment and, as he
modestly said, his "thoughts on music were rather scattered." Yet he
spoke with keen insight and authority on various phases of his art, and
much of what he said gains point from his own splendid work as a concert
violinist; for Lieutenant Hochstein (whose standing has been established
in numerous European as well as American recitals) could play what he


Knowing that in the regimental band he was, quite appropriately, a
clarinetist, "the clarinet in the military band being the equivalent of
the violin in the orchestra"--and a scholarship pupil of the Vienna
_Meisterschule_, it seemed natural to ask him concerning his teachers.
And the interesting fact developed that he had studied with the
celebrated Bohemian pedagog Sevcik and with Leopold Auer as well, two
teachers whose ideas and methods differ materially. "I studied with
Sevcik for two years," said the young violinist. "It was in 1909, when a
class of ten pupils was formed for him in the _Meisterschule_, at
Vienna, that I went to him. Sevcik was in many ways a wonderful teacher,
yet inclined to overemphasize the mechanical side of the art. He
literally _taught_ his pupils how to practice, how to develop technical
control by the most slow and painstaking study. In addition to his own
fine method and exercises, he also used Gavinies, Dont, Rode, Kreutzer,
applying in their studies ideas of his own.

"Auer as a teacher I found altogether different. Where Sevcik taught his
pupils the technic of their art by means of a system elaborately worked
out, Auer demonstrated his ideas through sheer personality, mainly from
the interpretative point of view. Any ambitious student could learn much
of value from either; yet in a general way one might express the
difference between them by saying that Sevcik could take a pupil of
medium talent and--at least from the mechanical standpoint--make an
excellent violinist of him. But Auer is an ideal teacher for the greatly
gifted. And he is especially skilled in taking some student of the
violin while his mind is still plastic and susceptible and molding
it--supplying it with lofty concepts of interpretation and expression.
Of course Auer (I studied with him in Petrograd and Dresden) has been
especially fortunate as regards his pupils, too, because active in a
land like Russia, where musical genius has almost become a commonplace.

"Sevcik, though an admirable teacher, personally is of a reserved and
reflective type, quite different from Auer, who is open and expansive. I
might recall a little instance which shows Sevcik's cautious nature, the
care he takes not to commit himself too unreservedly. When I took leave
of him--it was after I had graduated and won my prize--I naturally (like
all his pupils) asked him for his photo. Several other pupils of his
were in the room at the time. He took up his pen (I was looking over
his shoulder), commenced to write _Meinem best_.... And then he stopped,
glanced at the other pupils in the room, and wrote over the _best_ ...
he had already written, the word _liebsten_. But though I would, of
course, have preferred the first inscription, had Sevcik completed it, I
can still console myself that the other, even though I value it, was an
afterthought. But it was a characteristic thing for him to do!


"What is my idea of the violin as a medium of expression? It seems to me
that it is that of any other valid artistic medium. It is not so much a
question of the violin as of the violinist. A great interpreter reveals
his inner-most soul through his instrument, whatever it may be. Most
people think the violin is more expressive than any other instrument,
but this is open to question. It may be that most people respond more
readily to the appeal made by the violin. But genuine expression,
expressive playing, depends on the message the player has to deliver far
more than on the instrument he uses as a means. I have been as much
moved by some piano playing I have heard as by the violin playing of
some of the greatest violinists.

"And variety, _nuance_ in expressive playing, is largely a matter of the
player's mental attitude. Bach's _Chaconne_ or _Sicilienne_ calls for a
certain humility on the part of the artist. When I play Bach I do it
reverentially; a definite spiritual quality in my tone and expression is
the result. And to select a composer who in many ways is Bach's exact
opposite, Wieniawski, a certain audacious brilliancy cannot help but
make itself felt tonally, if this music is to be played in character.
The mental and spiritual attitude directly influences its own mechanical
transmission. No one artist should criticize another for differences in
interpretation, in expression, so long as they are justified by larger
concepts of art. Individuality is one of the artist's most precious
possessions, and there are always a number of different angles from
which the interpretation of an art work may be approached.

                            VIOLIN MASTERY

"Violin mastery? There have been only three violinists within my own
recollection, whom I would call masters of the violin. These are
Kubelik (when at his best), Franz von Vecsey, Hubay's pupil, whom I
heard abroad, and Heifetz, with his cameo-like perfection of technic.
These I would call masters of the violin, as an instrument, since they
have mastered every intricacy of the instrument. But I could name
several others who are greater musicians, and whose playing and
interpretation, to say nothing of tone, I prefer.

                       TONE PRODUCTION: RHYTHM

"In one sense true violin mastery is a question of tone production and
rhythm. And I believe that tone production depends principally upon the
imaginative ear of the player. This statement may seem somewhat
ambiguous, and one might ask, 'What is an imaginative ear?' My ear, for
instance, demands of my violin a certain quality of tone, which varies
according to the music I am playing. But before I think of playing the
music, I already know from reading it what I want it to sound like: that
is to say, the quality of the tone I wish to secure in each principal
phrase. Rhythm is perhaps the greatest factor in interpretation. Every
good musician has a 'good sense of rhythm' (that much abused phrase).
But it is only the _great_ musician who makes so striking and
individual an application of rhythm that his playing may be easily
distinguished by his use of it.

"There is not much to tell you as regards my method of work. I usually
work directly upon a program which has been previously mapped out. If I
have been away from my violin for more than a week or two I begin by
practicing scales, but ordinarily I find my technical work in the
programs I am preparing."

Asked about his band experiences at Camp Upton, Sergeant Hochstein was
enthusiastic. "No violinist could help but gain much from work with a
military band at one of the camps," he said. "For instance, I had a more
or less theoretical knowledge of wind instruments before I went to Camp
Upton. Now I have a practical working knowledge of them. I have already
scored a little violin composition of mine, a 'Minuet in Olden Style'
for full band, and have found it possible by the right manipulation to
preserve its original dainty and graceful character, in spite of the
fact that it is played by more than forty military bandsmen.

"Then, too," he said in conclusion, "I have organized a real orchestra
of twenty-one players, strings, brass, wood-wind, etc., which I hope is
going to be of real use on the other side during our training period in
France. You see, 'over there' the soldier boys' chances for leave are
limited and we will have to depend a good deal on our own selves for
amusement and recreation. I hope and believe my orchestra is not only
going to take its place as one of the most enjoyable features of our
army life; but also that it will make propaganda of the right sort for
the best music in a broad, catholic sense of the word!"

It is interesting to know that this patriotic young officer found
opportunities in camp and in the towns of France of carrying out his
wish to "make propaganda of the right sort for the best music" before he
gave his life to further the greater purpose which had called him


                             FRITZ KREISLER

                           PERSONALITY IN ART

The influence of the artist's personality in his art finds a most
striking exemplification in the case of Fritz Kreisler. Some time before
the writer called on the famous violinist to get at first hand some of
his opinions with regard to his art, he had already met him under
particularly interesting circumstances. The question had come up of
writing text-poems for two song-adaptations of Viennese folk-themes,
airs not unattractive in themselves; but which Kreisler's personal
touch, his individual gift of harmonization had lifted from a lower
plane to the level of the art song. Together with the mss. of his own
beautiful transcript, Mr. Kreisler in the one instance had given me the
printed original which suggested it--frankly a "popular" song, clumsily
harmonized in a "four-square" manner (though written in 3/4 time) with
nothing to indicate its latent possibilities. I compared it with his
mss. and, lo, it had been transformed! Gone was the clumsiness, the
vulgar and obvious harmonic treatment of the melody--Kreisler had kept
the melodic outline, but etherealized, spiritualized it, given it new
rhythmic _contours_, a deeper and more expressive meaning. And his rich
and subtle harmonization had lent it a quality of distinction that
justified a comparison between the grub and the butterfly. In a small
way it was an illuminating glimpse of how the personality of a true
artist can metamorphose what at first glance might seem something quite
negligible, and create beauty where its possibilities alone had existed

It is this personal, this individual, note in all that Fritz Kreisler
does--when he plays, when he composes, when he transcribes--that gives
his art-effort so great and unique a quality of appeal.

Talking to him in his comfortable sitting-room in the Hotel
Wellington--Homer and Juvenal (in the original) ranked on the piano-top
beside De Vere Stackpole novels and other contemporary literature called
to mind that though Brahms and Beethoven violin concertos are among his
favorites, he does not disdain to play a Granados _Spanish Dance_--it
seemed natural to ask him how he came to make those adaptations and
transcripts which have been so notable a feature of his programs, and
which have given such pleasure to thousands.

         [Illustration: FRITZ KREISLER, with hand-written note]


He said: "I began to compose and arrange as a young man. I wanted to
create a repertory for myself, to be able to express through my medium,
the violin, a great deal of beautiful music that had first to be adapted
for the instrument. What I composed and arranged was for my own use,
reflected my own musical tastes and preferences. In fact, it was not
till years after that I even thought of publishing the pieces I had
composed and arranged. For I was very diffident as to the outcome of
such a step. I have never written anything with the commercial idea of
making it 'playable.' And I have always felt that anything done in a
cold-blooded way for purely mercenary considerations somehow cannot be
good. It cannot represent an artist's best."

                       AT THE VIENNA CONSERVATORY

In reply to another query Mr. Kreisler reverted to the days when as a
boy he studied at the Vienna Conservatory. "I was only seven when I
attended the Conservatory and was much more interested in playing in the
park, where my boy friends would be waiting for me, than in taking
lessons on the violin. And yet some of the most lasting musical
impressions of my life were gathered there. Not so much as regards study
itself, as with respect to the good music I heard. Some very great men
played at the Conservatory when I was a pupil. There were Joachim,
Sarasate in his prime, Hellmesberger, and Rubinstein, whom I heard play
the first time he came to Vienna. I really believe that hearing Joachim
and Rubinstein play was a greater event in my life and did more for me
than five years of study!"

"Of course you do not regard technic as the main essential of the
concert violinist's equipment?" I asked him. "Decidedly not. Sincerity
and personality are the first main essentials. Technical equipment is
something which should be taken for granted. The _virtuoso_ of the type
of Ole Bull, let us say, has disappeared. The 'stunt' player of a former
day with a repertory of three or four bravura pieces was not far above
the average music-hall 'artist.' The modern _virtuoso_, the true concert
artist, is not worthy of the title unless his art is the outcome of a
completely unified nature.

                            VIOLIN MASTERY

"I do not believe that any artist is truly a master of his instrument
unless his control of it is an integral part of a whole. The musician is
born--his medium of expression is often a matter of accident. I believe
one may be intended for an artist prenatally; but whether violinist,
'cellist or pianist is partly a matter of circumstance. Violin mastery,
to my mind, still falls short of perfection, in spite of the completest
technical and musical equipment, if the artist thinks only of the
instrument he plays. After all, it is just a single medium of
expression. The true musician is an artist with a special instrument.
And every real artist has the feeling for other forms and mediums of
expression if he is truly a master of his own.

                       TECHNIC VERSUS IMAGINATION

"I think the technical element in the artist's education is often unduly
stressed. Remember," added Mr. Kreisler, with a smile, "I am not a
teacher, and this is a purely personal opinion I am giving you. But it
seems to me that absolute sincerity of effort, actual impossibility
_not_ to react to a genuine musical impulse are of great importance. I
firmly believe that if one is destined to become an artist the technical
means find themselves. The necessity of expression will follow the line
of least resistance. Too great a manual equipment often leads to an
exaggeration of the technical and tempts the artist to stress it unduly.

"I have worked a great deal in my life, but have always found that too
large an amount of purely technico-musical work fatigued me and reacted
unfavorably on my imagination. As a rule I only practice enough to keep
my fingers in trim; the nervous strain is such that doing more is out of
the question. And for a concert-violinist when on tour, playing every
day, the technical question is not absorbing. Far more important is it
for him to keep himself mentally and physically fresh and in the right
mood for his work. For myself I have to enjoy whatever I play or I
cannot play it. And it has often done me more good to dip my finger-tips
in hot water for a few seconds before stepping out on the platform than
to spend a couple of hours practicing. But I should not wish the student
to draw any deductions from what I say on this head. It is purely
personal and has no general application.

"Technical exercises I use very moderately. I wish my imagination to be
responsive, my interest fresh, and as a rule I have found that too much
work along routine channels does not accord with the best development of
my Art. I feel that technic should be in the player's head, it should be
a mental picture, a sort of 'master record.' It should be a matter of
will power to which the manual possibilities should be subjected.
Technic to me is a mental and not a manual thing.


"The technic thus achieved, a technic whose controlling power is chiefly
mental, is not perfect--I say so frankly--because it is more or less
dependent on the state of the artist's nervous system. Yet it is the one
and only kind of technic that can adequately and completely express the
musician's every instinct, wish and emotion. Every other form of technic
is stiff, unpliable, since it cannot entirely subordinate itself to the
individuality of the artist."


Mr. Kreisler gives no lessons and hence referred this question in the
most amiable manner to his boyhood friend and fellow-student Felix
Winternitz, the well-known Boston violin teacher, one of the faculty of
the New England Conservatory of Music, who had come in while we were
talking. Mr. Winternitz did not refuse an answer: "The serious student,
in my opinion, should not practice less than four hours a day, nor need
he practice more than five. Other teachers may demand more. Sevcik, I
know, insists that his pupils practice eight and ten hours a day. To do
so one must have the constitution of an ox, and the results are often
not equal to those produced by four hours of concentrated work. As Mr.
Kreisler intimated with regard to technic, practice calls for brain
power. Concentration in itself is not enough. There is only one way to
work and if the pupil can find it he can cover the labor of weeks in an

And turning to me, Mr. Winternitz added: "You must not take Mr. Kreisler
too seriously when he lays no stress on his own practicing. During the
concert season he has his violin in hand for an hour or so nearly every
day. He does not call it practicing, and you and I would consider it
playing and great playing at that. But it is a genuine illustration of
what I meant when I said that one who knew how could cover the work of
weeks in an hour's time."


I tried to draw from the famous violinist some hint as to the secret of
the abiding popularity of his own compositions and transcripts but--as
those who know him are aware--Kreisler has all the modesty of the truly
great. He merely smiled and said: "Frankly, I don't know." But Mr.
Winternitz' comment (when a 'phone call had taken Kreisler from the room
for a moment) was, "It is the touch given by his accompaniments that
adds so much: a harmonic treatment so rich in design and coloring, and
so varied that melodies were never more beautifully set off." Mr.
Kreisler, as he came in again, remarked: "I don't mind telling you that
I enjoyed very much writing my _Tambourin Chinois_.[A] The idea for it
came to me after a visit to the Chinese theater in San Francisco--not
that the music there suggested any theme, but it gave me the impulse to
write a free fantasy in the Chinese manner."

[Footnote A: It is interesting to note that Nikolai Sokoloff, conductor
of the San Francisco Philharmonic, returning from a tour of the American
and French army camps in France, some time ago, said: "My most popular
number was Kreisler's _Tambourin Chinois_. Invariably I had to repeat
that." A strong indorsement of the internationalism of Art by the actual
fighter in the trenches.]


The question of style now came up. "I am not in favor of 'labeling' the
concert artist, of calling him a 'lyric' or a 'dramatic' or some other
kind of a player. If he is an artist in the real sense he controls all
styles." Then, in answer to another question: "Nothing can express music
but music itself. Tradition in interpretation does not mean a
cut-and-dried set of rules handed down; it is, or should be, a matter
of individual sentiment, of inner conviction. What makes one man an
artist and keeps another an amateur is a God-given instinct for the
artistically and musically right. It is not a thing to be explained, but
to be felt. There is often only a narrow line of demarcation between the
artistically right and wrong. Yet nearly every real artist will be found
to agree as to when and when not that boundary has been overstepped.
Sincerity and personality as well as disinterestedness, an expression of
himself in his art that is absolutely honest, these, I believe, are
ideals which every artist should cherish and try to realize. I believe,
furthermore, that these ideals will come more and more into their own;
that after the war there will be a great uplift, and that Art will
realize to the full its value as a humanizing factor in life." And as is
well known, no great artist of our day has done more toward the actual
realization of these ideals he cherishes than Fritz Kreisler himself.


                              FRANZ KNEISEL

                       THE PERFECT STRING ENSEMBLE

Is there a lover of chamber music unfamiliar with Franz Kneisel's name?
It may be doubted. After earlier European triumphs the gifted Roumanian
violinist came to this country (1885), and aside from his activities in
other directions--as a solo artist he was the first to play the Brahms
and Goldmark violin concertos, and the Cesar Franck sonata in this
country--organized his famous quartet. And, until his recent retirement
as its director and first violin, it has been perhaps the greatest
single influence toward stimulating appreciation for the best in chamber
music that the country has known. Before the Flonzaley was, the Kneisels
were. They made plain how much of beauty the chamber music repertory
offered the amateur string player; not only in the classic
repertory--Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Spohr; in Schubert, Schumann,
Brahms; but in Smetana, Dvorak and Tschaikovsky; in Cesar Franck,
Debussy and Ravel. Not the least among Kneisel's achievements is, that
while the professional musicians in the cities in which his organization
played attended its concerts as a matter of course, the average music
lover who played a string instrument came to them as well, and carried
away with him a message delivered with all the authority of superb
musicianship and sincerity, one which bade him "go and do likewise," in
so far as his limitations permitted. And the many excellent professional
chamber music organizations, trios, quartets and _ensembles_ of various
kinds which have come to the fore since they began to play offer
eloquent testimony with regard to the cultural work of Kneisel and his
fellow artists.

            [Illustration: FRANZ KNEISEL, with signature]

A cheery grate fire burned in the comfortable study in Franz Kneisel's
home; the autographed--in what affectionate and appreciative
terms--pictures of great fellow artists looked down above the book-cases
which hold the scores of those masters of what has been called "the
noblest medium of music in existence," whose beauties the famous quartet
has so often disclosed on the concert stage. And Mr. Kneisel was
amiability personified when I asked him to give me his theory of the
perfect string _ensemble_, and the part virtuosity played in it.


"The artist, the _Tonkuenstler_, to use a foreign phrase, ranks the
virtuoso in chamber music. Joachim was no virtuoso, he did not stress
technic, the less important factor in _ensemble_ playing. Sarasate was a
virtuoso in the best sense of the word; and yet as an _ensemble_ music
player he fell far short of Joachim. As I see it 'virtuoso' is a kind of
flattering title, no more. But a _Tonkuenstler_, a 'tone-artist,' though
he must have the virtuoso technic in order to play Brahms and Beethoven
concertos, needs besides a spiritual insight, a deep concept of their
nobility to do them justice--the mere technic demanded for a virtuoso
show piece is not enough.


"You ask me what 'Violin Mastery' means in the string quartet. It has an
altogether different meaning to me, I imagine, than to the violin
virtuoso. Violin mastery in the string _ensemble_ is as much mastery of
self as of technical means. The artist must sink his identity completely
in that of the work he plays, and though the last Beethoven quartets are
as difficult as many violin concertos, they are polyphony, the
combination and interweaving of individual melodies, and they call for a
mastery of repression as well as expression. I realized how keenly alive
the musical listener is to this fact once when our quartet had played in
Alma-Tadema's beautiful London home, for the great English painter was
also a music-lover and a very discriminating one. He had a fine piano in
a beautifully decorated case, and it was an open secret that at his
musical evenings, after an artist had played, the lid of the piano was
raised, and Sir Lawrence asked him to pencil his autograph on the soft
white wood of its inner surface--_but only if he thought the compliment
deserved_. There were some famous names written there--Joachim,
Sarasate, Paderewski, Neruda, Piatti, to mention a few. Naturally an
artist playing at Alma-Tadema's home for the first time could not help
speculating as to his chances. Many were called, but comparatively few
were chosen. We were guests at a dinner given by Sir Lawrence. There
were some fifty people prominent in London's artistic, musical and
social world present, and we had no idea of being asked to play. Our
instruments were at our hotel and we had to send for them. We played the
Schubert quartet in A minor and Dvorak's 'American' quartet and, of
course, my colleagues and myself forgot all about the piano lid the
moment we began to play. Yet, I'm free to confess, that when the piano
lid was raised for us we appreciated it, for it was no empty compliment
coming from Sir Lawrence, and I have been told that some very
distinguished artists have not had it extended to them. And I know that
on that evening the phrase 'Violin Mastery' in an _ensemble_ sense, as
the outcome of ceaseless striving for cooerdination in expression,
absolute balance, and all the details that go to make up the perfect
_ensemble_, seemed to us to have a very definite color and meaning.


"What exactly does the first violin represent?" Mr. Kneisel went on in
answer to another question. "The first violin might be called the
chairman of the string meeting. His is the leading voice. Not that he
should be an autocrat, no, but he must hold the reins of discipline.
Many think that the four string players in a quartet have equal rights.
First of all, and above all, are the rights of the composer, Bach,
Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert,--as the case may be. But from the
standpoint of interpretation the first violin has some seventy per cent.
of the responsibility as compared with thirty per cent. for the
remaining voices. In all the famous quartet organizations, Joachim,
Hellmesberger, etc., the first violin has been the directing instrument
and has set the pace. As chairman it has been his duty to say when
second violin, viola and 'cello were entitled to hold the floor.
Hellmesberger, in fact, considered himself the _whole_ quartet." Mr.
Kneisel smiled and showed me a little book of Hellmesberger's Vienna
programs. Each program was headed:

                         HELLMESBERGER QUARTET

                         with the assistance of

                   MESSRS. MATH. DURST, CARL HEISSLER,
                            CARL SCHLESINGER

"In other words, Hellmesberger was the quartet himself, the other three
artists merely 'assisted,' which, after all, is going too far!

"Of course, quartets differ. Just as we have operas in which the alto
solo _role_ is the most important, so we have quartets in which the
'cello or the viola has a more significant part. Mozart dedicated
quartets to a King of Prussia, who played 'cello, and he was careful to
make the 'cello part the most important. And in Smetana's quartet _Aus
meinem Leben_, the viola plays a most important role. Even the second
violin often plays themes introducing principal themes of the first
violin, and it has its brief moments of prominence. Yet, though the
second violin or the 'cellist may be, comparatively speaking, a better
player than the first violin, the latter is and must be the leader.
Practically every composer of chamber music recognizes the fact in his
compositions. He, the first violin, should not command three slaves,
though; but guide three associates, and do it tactfully with regard to
their individuality and that of their instruments.

                         "ENSEMBLE" REHEARSING

"You ask what are the essentials of _ensemble_ practice on the part of
the artists? Real reverence, untiring zeal and punctuality at
rehearsals. And then, an absolute sense of rhythm. I remember
rehearsing a Volkmann quartet once with a new second violinist." [Mr.
Kneisel crossed over to his bookcase and brought me the score to
illustrate the rhythmic point in question, one slight in itself yet as
difficult, perhaps, for a player without an absolute sense of rhythm as
"perfect intonation" would be for some others.] "He had a lovely tone, a
big technic and was a prize pupil of the Vienna Conservatory. We went
over this two measure phrase some sixteen times, until I felt sure he
had grasped the proper accentuation. And he was most amiable and willing
about it, too. But when we broke up he pointed to the passage and said
to me with a smile: 'After all, whether you play it _this_ way, or
_that_ way, what's the difference?' Then I realized that he had stressed
his notes correctly a few times by chance, and that his own sense of
rhythm did not tell him that there were no two ways about it. The
rhythmic and tonal _nuances_ in a quartet cannot be marked too perfectly
in order to secure a beautiful and finished performance. And such a
violinist as the one mentioned, in spite of his tone and technic, was
never meant for an _ensemble_ player.

"I have never believed in a quartet getting together and 'reading' a
new work as a preparation for study. As first violin I have always made
it my business to first study the work in score, myself, to study it
until I knew the whole composition absolutely, until I had a mental
picture of its meaning, and of the interrelation of its four voices in
detail. Thirty-two years of experience have justified my theory. Once
the first violin knows the work the practicing may begin; for he is in a
position gradually and tactfully to guide the working-out of the
interpretation without losing time in the struggle to correct faults in
balance which are developed in an unprepared 'reading' of the work.
There is always one important melody, and it is easier to find it
studying the score, to trace it with eye and mind in its contrapuntal
web, than by making voyages of discovery in actual playing.

"Every player has his own qualities, every instrument its own
advantages. Certain passages in a second violin or viola part may be
technically better suited to the hand of the player, to the nature of
the instrument, and--they will sound better than others. Yet from the
standpoint of the composition the passages that 'lie well' are often not
the more important. This is hard for the player--what is easy for him
he unconsciously is inclined to stress, and he must be on his guard
against it. This is another strong argument in favor of a thorough
preliminary study on the part of the leading violin of the construction
of the work."

                        THE ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR

The comparison which I asked Mr. Kneisel to make is one which he could
establish with authority. Aside from his experience as director of his
quartet, he has been the _concert-meister_ of such famous foreign
orchestras as Bilse's and that of the _Hofburg Theater_ in Vienna and,
for eighteen years, of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in this country. He
has also conducted over one hundred concerts of the Boston Symphony, and
was director of the Worcester Music Festivals.

"Nikisch once said to me, after he had heard us play the Schumann A
minor quartet in Boston: 'Kneisel, it was beautiful, and I felt that you
had more difficulty in developing it than I have with an orchestral
score!' And I think he was right. First of all the symphonic conductor
is an autocrat. There is no appeal from the commands of his baton. But
the first violin of a quartet is, in a sense, only the 'first among
peers.' The velvet glove is an absolute necessity in his case. He must
gain his art ends by diplomacy and tact, he must always remember that
his fellow artists are solo players. If he is arbitrary, no matter how
right he may be, he disturbs that fine feeling of artistic fellowship,
that delicate balance of individual temperaments harmonized for and by a
single purpose. In this connection I do not mind confessing that though
I enjoy a good game of cards, I made it a rule never to play cards with
my colleagues during the hours of railroad traveling involved in keeping
our concert engagements. I played chess. In chess the element of luck
does not enter. Each player is responsible for what he does or leaves
undone. And defeat leaves no such sting as it does when all may be
blamed on chance. In an _ensemble_ that strives for perfection there
must be no undercurrents of regret, of dissatisfaction--nothing that
interferes with the sympathy and good will which makes each individual
artist do his best. And so I have never regretted giving cards the


Of late years Mr. Kneisel's activity as a teacher has added to his
reputation. Few teachers can point to a galaxy of artist pupils which
includes such names as Samuel Gardner, Sascha Jacobsen, Breskin, Helen
Jeffry and Olive Meade (who perpetuates the ideals of his great string
_ensemble_ in her own quartet). "What is the secret of your method?" I
asked him first of all. "Method is hardly the word," he told me. "It
sounds too cut-and-dried. I teach according to principles, which must,
of course, vary in individual cases; yet whose foundation is fixed. And
like Joachim, or Leschetiszky, I have preparatory teachers.

                           THE GENERAL FAULT

"My experience has shown me that the fundamental fault of most pupils is
that they do not know how to hold either the bow or the violin. Here in
America the violin student as a rule begins serious technical study too
late, contrary to the European practice. It is a great handicap to begin
really serious work at seventeen or eighteen, when the flexible bones
of childhood have hardened, and have not the pliability needed for
violin gymnastics. It is a case of not bending the twig as you want the
tree to grow in time. And those who study professionally are often more
interested in making money as soon as possible than in bending all their
energies on reaching the higher levels of their art. Many a promising
talent never develops because its possessor at seventeen or eighteen is
eager to earn money as an orchestra or 'job' player, instead of
sacrificing a few years more and becoming a true artist. I've seen it
happen time and again: a young fellow really endowed who thinks he can
play for a living and find time to study and practice 'after hours.' And
he never does!

"But to return to the general fault of the violin student. There is a
certain angle at which the bow should cross the strings in order to
produce those vibrations which give the roundest, fullest, most perfect
tone [he took his own beautiful instrument out of its case to illustrate
the point], and the violin must be so held that the bow moves straight
across the strings in this manner. A deviation from the correct attack
produces a scratchy tone. And it is just in the one fundamental thing:
the holding of the violin in exactly the same position when it is taken
up by the player, never varying by so much as half-an-inch, and the
correct attack by the bow, in which the majority of pupils are
deficient. If the violin is not held at the proper angle, for instance,
it is just as though a piano were to stand on a sloping floor. Too many
students play 'with the violin' on the bow, instead of holding the
violin steady, and letting the bow play.

"And in beginning to study, this apparently simple, yet fundamentally
important, principle is often overlooked or neglected. Joachim, when he
studied as a ten-year-old boy under Hellmesberger in Vienna, once played
a part in a concerto by Maurer, for four violins and piano. His teacher
was displeased: 'You'll never be a fiddler!' he told him, 'you use your
bow too stiffly!' But the boy's father took him to Boehm, and he remained
with this teacher for three years, until his fundamental fault was
completely overcome. And if Joachim had not given his concentrated
attention to his bowing while there was still time, he would never have
been the great artist he later became.

                         THE ART OF THE BOW

"You see," he continued, "the secret of really beautiful violin playing
lies in the bow. A Blondin crossing Niagara finds his wire hard and firm
where he first steps on it. But as he progresses it vibrates with
increasing intensity. And as the tight-rope walker knows how to control
the vibrations of his wire, so the violinist must master the vibrations
of his strings. Each section of the string vibrates with a different
quality of tone. Most pupils think that a big tone is developed by
pressure with the bow--yet much depends on what part of the string this
pressure is applied. Fingering is an art, of course, but the great art
is the art of the bow, the 'art of bowing,' as Tartini calls it. When a
pupil understands it he has gone far.

"Every pupil may be developed to a certain degree without ever
suspecting how important a factor the manipulation of the bow will be in
his further progress. He thinks that if the fingers of his left hand are
agile he has gained the main end in view. But then he comes to a
stop--his left hand can no longer aid him, and he finds that if he wants
to play with real beauty of expression the bow supplies the only true
key. Out of a hundred who reach this stage," Mr. Kneisel went on, rather
sadly, "only some five or six, or even less, become great artists. They
are those who are able to control the bow as well as the left hand. All
real art begins with phrasing, and this, too, lies altogether in the
mastery of bow--the very soul of the violin!"

I asked Mr. Kneisel how he came to write his own "Advanced Exercises"
for the instrument. "I had an idea that a set of studies, in which each
single study presented a variety of technical figures might be a relief
from the exercises in so many excellent methods, where pages of scales
are followed by pages of arpeggios, pages of double-notes and so forth.
It is very monotonous to practice pages and pages of a single technical
figure," he added. "Most pupils simply will not do it!" He brought out a
copy of his "Exercises" and showed me their plan. "Here, for instance, I
have scales, trills, arpeggios--all in the same study, and the study is
conceived as a musical composition instead of a technical formula. This
is a study in finger position, with all possible bowings. My aim has
been to concentrate the technical material of a whole violin school in
a set of _etudes_ with musical interest."

And he showed me the second book of the studies, in ms., containing
exercises in every variety of scale, and trill, bowing, _nuance_, etc.,
combined in a single musical movement. This volume also contains his own
cadenza to the Beethoven violin concerto. In conclusion Mr. Kneisel laid
stress on the importance of the student's hearing the best music at
concert and recital as often as possible, and on the value and incentive
supplied by a musical atmosphere in the home and, on leaving him, I
could not help but feel that what he had said in our interview, his
reflections and observations based on an artistry beyond cavil, and an
authoritative experience, would be well worth pondering by every serious
student of the instrument. For Franz Kneisel speaks of what he knows.


                              ADOLFO BETTI


What lover of chamber music in its more perfect dispensations is not
familiar with the figure of Adolfo Betti, the guiding brain and bow of
the Flonzaley Quartet? Born in Florence, he played his first public
concert at the age of six, yet as a youth found it hard to choose
between literature, for which he had decided aptitude,[A] and music.
Fortunately for American concert audiences of to-day, he finally
inclined to the latter. An exponent of what many consider the greatest
of all violinistic schools, the Belgian, he studied for four years with
Cesar Thomson at Liege, spent four more concertizing in Vienna and
elsewhere, and returned to Thomson as the latter's assistant in the
Brussels Conservatory, three years before he joined the Flonzaleys, in
1903. With pleasant recollections of earlier meetings with this gifted
artist, the writer sought him out, and found him amiably willing to talk
about the modern quartet and its ideals, ideals which he personally has
done so much to realize.

[Footnote A: M. Betti has published a number of critical articles in the
_Guide Musical_ of Brussels, the _Rivista Musicale_ of Turin, etc.]

                          THE MODERN QUARTET

"You ask me how the modern quartet differs from its predecessors?" said
Mr. Betti. "It differs in many ways. For one thing the modern quartet
has developed in a way that makes its inner voices--second violin and
viola--much more important than they used to be. Originally, as in
Haydn's early quartets, we have a violin solo with three accompanying
instruments. In Beethoven's last quartets the intermediate voices have
already gained a freedom and individuality which before him had not even
been suspected. In these last quartets Beethoven has already set forth
the principle which was to become the basis of modern polyphony: '_first
of all_ to allow each voice to express itself freely and fully, and
_afterward_ to see what the relations were of one to the other.' In
fact, no one has exercised a more revolutionary effect on the quartet
than Beethoven--no one has made it attain so great a degree of
progress. And surely the distance separating the quartet as Beethoven
found it, from the quartet as he left it (Grand Fugue, Op. 131, Op.
132), is greater than that which lies between the Fugue Op. 132, and the
most advanced modern quartet, let us say, for instance, Schoenberg's Op.
7. Schoenberg, by the way, has only applied and developed the principles
established by Beethoven in the latter's last quartets. But in the
modern quartet we have a new element, one which tends more and more to
become preponderant, and which might be called _orchestral_ rather than
_da camera_. Smetana, Grieg, Tschaikovsky were the first to follow this
path, in which the majority of the moderns, including Franck and
Debussy, have followed them. And in addition, many among the most
advanced modern composers _strive for orchestral effects that often lie
outside the natural capabilities of the strings_!

         [Illustration: ADOLFO BETTI, with hand-written note]

"For instance Stravinsky, in the first of his three impressionistic
sketches for quartet (which we have played), has the first violin play
_ponticello_ throughout, not the natural _ponticello_, but a quite
special one, to produce an effect of a bag-pipe sounding at a distance.
I had to try again and again till I found the right technical means to
produce the effect desired. Then, the 'cello is used to imitate the
drum; there are special technical problems for the second violin--a
single sustained D, with an accompanying _pizzicato_ on the open
strings--while the viola is required to suggest the tramp of marching
feet. And, again, in other modern quartets we find special technical
devices undreamt of in earlier days. Borodine, for instance, is the
first to systematically employ successions of harmonics. In the trio of
his first quartet the melody is successively introduced by the 'cello
and the first violin, altogether in harmonics.


"You ask me whether the average quartet of amateurs, of lovers of string
music, can get much out of the more modern quartets. I would say yes,
but with some serious reservations. There has been much beautiful music
written, but most of it is complicated. In the case of the older
quartets, Haydn, Mozart, etc., even if they are not played well, the
performers can still obtain an idea of the music, of its thought
content. But in the modern quartets, unless each individual player has
mastered every technical difficulty, the musical idea does not pierce
through, there is no effect.

"I remember when we rehearsed the first Schoenberg quartet. It was in
1913, at a Chicago hotel, and we had no score, but only the separate
parts. The results, at our first attempt, were so dreadful that we
stopped after a few pages. It was not till I had secured a score,
studied it and again tried it that we began to see a light. Finally
there was not one measure which we did not understand. But Schoenberg,
Reger, Ravel quartets make too great a demand on the technical ability
of the average quartet amateur.


"Naturally, the first violin is the leader, the Conductor of the
quartet, as in its early days, although the 'star' system, with one
virtuose player and three satellites, has disappeared. Now the quartet
as a whole has established itself in the _virtuoso_ field--using the
word _virtuoso_ in its best sense. The Mueller quartet (Hanover),
1845-1850, was the first to travel as a chamber music organization, and
the famous _Florentiner_ Quartet the first to realize what could be
done in the way of finish in playing. As _premier violiniste_ of the
Flonzaley's I study and prepare the interpretation of the works we are
to play before any rehearsing is done.

"While the first violin still holds first place in the modern quartet,
the second violin has become much more important than formerly; it has
gained in individuality. In many of the newer quartets it is quite as
important as the first. In Hugo Wolf's quartet, for example, first and
second violins are employed as though in a concerto for two violins.

"The viola, especially in modern French works--Ravel, Debussy,
Samazeuil--has a prominent part. In the older quartets one reason the
viola parts are simple is because the alto players as a rule were
technically less skillful. As a general thing they were violinists who
had failed--'the refugees of the G clef,' as Edouard Colonne, the
eminent conductor, once wittily said. But the reason modern French
composers give the viola special attention is because France now is
ahead of the other nations in virtuose viola playing. It is practically
the only country which may be said to have a 'school' of viola playing.
In the Smetana quartet the viola plays a most important part, and
Dvorak, who himself played viola, emphasized the instrument in his

"Mozart showed what the 'cello was able to do in the quartets he
dedicated to the ''cellist king,' Frederick William of Prussia. And
then, the 'cello has always the musical importance which attaches to it
as the lower of the two 'outer voices' of the quartet _ensemble_. Like
the second violin and viola, it has experienced a technical and musical
development beyond anything Haydn or Mozart would have dared to write.


"Realization of the Art aims of the modern quartet calls for endless
rehearsal. Few people realize the hard work and concentrated effort
entailed. And there are always new problems to solve. After preparing a
new score in advance, we meet and establish its general idea, its broad
outlines in actual playing. And then, gradually, we fill in the details.
Ordinarily we rehearse three hours a day, less during the concert
season, of course; but always enough to keep absolutely in trim. And we
vary our practice programs in order to keep mentally fresh as well as
technically fit.


"Perfect intonation is a great problem--one practically unknown to the
average amateur quartet player. Four players may each one of them be
playing in tune, in pitch; yet their chords may not be truly in tune,
because of the individual bias--a trifle sharp, a trifle flat--in
interpreting pitch. This individual bias may be caused by the attraction
existing between certain notes, by differences of register and _timbre_,
or any number of other reasons--too many to recount. The true beauty of
the quartet tone cannot be obtained unless there is an exact adjustment,
a tempering of the individual pitch of each instrument, till perfect
accordance exists. This is far more difficult and complicated than one
might at first believe. For example, let us take one of the simplest
violin chords," said Mr. Betti [and he rapidly set it down in pencil].

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

"Now let us begin by fixing the B so that it is perfectly in tune with
the E, then _without at all changing_ the B, take the interval D-B. You
will see that the sixth will not be in tune. Repeat the experiment,
inverting the notes: the result will still be the same. Try it yourself
some time," added Mr. Betti with a smile, "and you will see. What is the
reason? It is because the middle B has not been adjusted, tempered! Give
the same notes to the first and second violins and the viola and you
will have the same result. Then, when the 'cello is added, the problem
is still more complicated, owing to the difference in _timbre_ and
register. Yet it is a problem which can be solved, and is solved in
practically everything we play.

"Another difficulty, especially in the case of some of the _very daring_
chords encountered in modern compositions, is the matter of balance
between the individual notes. There are chords which only _sound well_
if certain notes are thrown into relief; and others only if played very
softly (almost as though they were overtones). To overcome such
difficulties means a great deal of work, real musical instinct and,
above all, great familiarity with the composer's harmonic processes. Yet
with time and patience the true balance of tone can be obtained.


"All four individual players must be able to _feel_ the tempo they are
playing in the same way. I believe it was Mahler who once gave out a
beat very distinctly--one, two, three--told his orchestra players to
count the beat silently for twenty measures and then stop. As each
_felt_ the beat differently from the other, every one of them stopped at
a different time. So _tempo_, just like intonation, must be 'tempered'
by the four quartet players in order to secure perfect rhythmic


"Modern composers have wonderfully improved dynamic expression. Every
little shade of meaning they make clear with great distinctness. The
older composers, and occasionally a modern like Emanuel Moor, do not use
expression marks. Moor says, 'If the performers really have something to
put into my work the signs are not needed.' Yet this has its
disadvantages. I once had an entirely unmarked Sonata by Sammartini. As
most first movements in the sonatas of that composer are _allegros_ I
tried the beginning several times as an _allegro_, but it sounded
radically wrong. Then, at last, it occurred to me to try it as a _largo_
and, behold, it was beautiful!


"If the leader of the quartet has lived himself into and mastered a
composition, together with his associates, the result is sure. I must
live in the music I play just as an actor must live the character he
represents. All higher interpretation depends on solving technical
problems in a way which is not narrowly mechanical. And while the
_ensemble_ spirit must be preserved, the freedom of the individual
should not be too much restrained. Once the style and manner of a modern
composer are familiar, it is easier to present his works: when we first
played the Reger quartet here some twenty years ago, we found pages
which at first we could not at all understand. If one has fathomed
Debussy, it is easier to play Milhaud, Roger-Ducasse, Samazeuil--for the
music of the modern French school has much in common. One great cultural
value the professional quartet has for the musical community is the fact
that it gives a large circle a measure of acquaintance with the mode of
thought and style of composers whose symphonic and larger works are
often an unknown quantity. This applies to Debussy, Reger, the modern
Russians, Bloch and others. When we played the Stravinsky pieces here,
for instance, his _Petrouschka_ and _Firebird_ had not yet been heard.

                             SOME IDEALS

"We try, as an organization, to be absolutely catholic in taste. Nor do
we neglect the older music, because we play so much of the new. This
year we are devoting special attention to the American composers.
Formerly the Kneisels took care of them, and now we feel that we should
assume this legacy. We have already played Daniel Gregory Mason's fine
_Intermezzo_, and the other American numbers we have played include
David Stanley Smith's _Second Quartet_, and movements from quartets by
Victor Kolar and Samuel Gardner. We are also going to revive Charles
Martin Loeffler's _Rhapsodies_ for viola, oboe and piano.

"I have been for some time making a collection of sonatas _a tre_, two
violins and 'cello--delightful old things by Sammartini, Leclair, the
Englishman Boyce, Friedemann Bach and others. This is material from
which the amateur could derive real enjoyment and profit. The Leclair
sonata in D minor we have played some three hundred times; and its slow
movement is one of the most beautiful _largos_ I know of in all chamber
music. The same thing could be done in the way of transcription for
chamber music which Kreisler has already done so charmingly for the solo
violin. And I would dearly love to do it! There are certain 'primitives'
of the quartet--Johann Christian Bach, Gossec, Telemann, Michel
Haydn--who have written music full of the rarest melodic charm and
freshness. I have much excellent material laid by, but as you know,"
concluded Mr. Betti with a sigh, "one has so little time for anything in


                                HANS LETZ

                          THE TECHNIC OF BOWING

Hans Letz, the gifted Alsatian violinist, is well fitted to talk on any
phase of his Art. A pupil of Joachim (he came to this country in 1908),
he was for three years concertmaster of the Thomas orchestra, appearing
as a solo artist in most of our large cities, and was not only one of
the Kneisels (he joined that organization in 1912), but the leader of a
quartet of his own. As a teacher, too, he is active in giving others an
opportunity to apply the lessons of his own experience.

                             VIOLIN MASTERY

When asked for his definition of the term, Mr. Letz said: "There can be
no such thing as an _absolute_ mastery of the violin. Mastery is a
relative term. The artist is first of all more or less dependent on
circumstances which he cannot control--his mood, the weather, strings,
a thousand and one incidentals. And then, the nearer he gets to his
ideal, the more apt his ideal is to escape him. Yet, discounting all
objections, I should say that a master should be able to express
perfectly the composer's idea, reflected by his own sensitive soul.

                        THE KEY TO INTERPRETATION

"The bow is the key to this mastery in expression, in interpretation: in
a lesser degree the left hand. The average pupil does not realize this
but believes that mere finger facility is the whole gist of technic. Yet
the richest color, the most delicate _nuance_, is mainly a matter of
bowing. In the left hand, of course, the _vibrato_ gives a certain
amount of color effect, the intense, dramatic tone quality of the rapid
_vibrato_ is comparable on the violin to the _tremulando_ of the singer.
At the same time the _vibrato_ used to excess is quite as bad as an
excessive _tremulando_ in the voice. But control of the bow is the key
to the gates of the great field of declamation, it is the means of
articulation and accent, it gives character, comprising the entire scale
of the emotions. In fact, declamation with the violin bow is very much
like declamation in dramatic art. And the attack of the bow on the
string should be as incisive as the utterance of the first accented
syllable of a spoken word. The bow is emphatically the means of
expression, but only the advanced pupil can develop its finer, more
delicate expressional possibilities.

                         THE TECHNIC OF BOWING

"Genius does many things by instinct. And it sometimes happens that very
great performers, trying to explain some technical function, do not know
how to make their meaning clear. With regard to bowing, I remember that
Joachim (a master colorist with the bow) used to tell his students to
play largely with the wrist. What he really meant was with an
elbow-joint movement, that is, moving the bow, which should always be
connected with a movement of the forearm by means of the elbow-joint.
The ideal bow stroke results from keeping the joints of the right arm
loose, and at the same time firm enough to control each motion made. A
difficult thing for the student is to learn to draw the bow across the
strings _at a right angle_, the only way to produce a good tone. I find
it helps my pupils to tell them not to think of the position of the
bow-arm while drawing the bow across the strings, but merely to follow
with the tips of the fingers of the right hand an imaginary line running
at a right angle across the strings. The whole bow then moves as it
should, and the arm motions unconsciously adjust themselves.

                           RHYTHM AND COLOR

"Rhythm is the foundation of all music--not rhythm in its metronomic
sense, but in the broader sense of proportion. I lay the greatest stress
on the development of rhythmic sensibility in the student. Rhythm gives
life to every musical phrase." Mr. Letz had a Brahms' quartet open on
his music stand. Playing the following passage, he said:

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

"In order to give this phrase its proper rhythmic value, to express it
clearly, plastically, there must be a very slight separation between the
sixteenths and the eighth-note following them. This--the bow picked up a
trifle from the strings--throws the sixteenths into relief. As I have
already said, tone color is for the main part controlled by the bow. If
I draw the bow above the fingerboard instead of keeping it near the
bridge, I have a decided contrast in color. This color contrast may
always be established: playing near the bridge results in a clear and
sharp tone, playing near the fingerboard in a veiled and velvety one.

                        SUGGESTIONS IN TEACHING

"I find that, aside from the personal illustration absolutely necessary
when teaching, that an appeal to the pupil's imagination usually bears
fruit. In developing tone-quality, let us say, I tell the pupil his
phrases should have a golden, mellow color, the tonal equivalent of the
hues of the sunrise. I vary my pictures according to the circumstances
and the pupil, in most cases, reacts to them. In fast bowings, for
instance, I make three color distinctions or rather sound distinctions.
There is the 'color of rain,' when a fast bow is pushed gently over the
strings, while not allowed to jump; the 'color of snowflakes' produced
when the hairs of the bow always touch the strings, and the wood dances;
and 'the color of hail' (which seldom occurs in the classics), when in
the real characteristic _spiccato_ the whole bow leaves the string."

                       THE ART AND THE SCHOOLS

In reply to another question, Mr. Letz added: "Great violin playing is
great violin playing, irrespective of school or nationality. Of course
the Belgians and French have notable elegance, polish, finish in detail.
The French lay stress on sensuous beauty of tone. The German temperament
is perhaps broader, neglecting sensuous beauty for beauty of idea,
developing the scholarly side. Sarasate, the Spaniard, is a unique
national figure. The Slavs seem to have a natural gift for the
violin--perhaps because of centuries of repression--and are passionately
temperamental. In their playing we find that melancholy, combined with
an intense craving for joy, which runs through all Slavonic music and
literature. Yet, all said and done, Art is and remains first of all
international, and the great violinist is a great artist, no matter what
his native land."


                            DAVID MANNES


That David Mannes, the well-known violinist and conductor, so long
director of the New York Music School Settlement, would be able to speak
in an interesting and authoritative manner on his art, was a foregone
conclusion in the writer's mind. A visit to the educator's own beautiful
"Music School" confirmed this conviction. In reply to some questions
concerning his own study years Mr. Mannes spoke of his work with
Heinrich de Ahna, Karl Halir and Eugene Ysaye. "When I came to de Ahna
in Berlin, I was, unfortunately, not yet ready for him, and so did not
get much benefit from his instruction. In the case of Halir, to whom I
went later, I was in much better shape to take advantage of what he
could give me, and profited accordingly. It is a point any student may
well note--that when he thinks of studying with some famous teacher
he be technically and musically equipped to take advantage of all that
the latter may be able to give him. Otherwise it is a case of love's
labor lost on the part of both. Karl Halir was a sincere and very
thorough teacher. He was a Spohr player _par excellence_, and I have
never found his equal in the playing of Spohr's _Gesangsscene_. With him
I studied Kreutzer, Rode, Fiorillo; and to know Halir as a teacher was
to know him at his best; since as a public performer--great violinist as
he was--he did not do himself justice, because he was too nervous and

          [Illustration: DAVID MANNES, with hand-written note]

                           STUDYING WITH YSAYE

"It was while sitting among the first violins in the New York Symphony
Orchestra that I first heard Ysaye. And for the first time in my life I
heard a man with whom I fervently _wanted_ to study; an artist whose
whole attitude with regard to tone and sound reproduction embodied my

"I worked with Ysaye in Brussels and in his cottage at Godinne. Here he
taught much as Liszt did at Weimar, a group of from ten to twenty
disciples. Early in the morning he went fishing in the Meuse, then back
to breakfast and then came the lessons: not more than three or four a
day. Those who studied drew inspiration from him as the pianists of the
Weimar circle did from their Master. In fact, Ysaye's standpoint toward
music had a good deal in common with Rubinstein's and he often said he
wished he could play the violin as Rubinstein did the piano. Ysaye is an
artist who has transcended his own medium--he has become a poet of
sound. And unless the one studying with him could understand and
appreciate this fact he made a poor teacher. But to me, in all humility,
he was and will always remain a wonderful inspiration. As an influence
in my career his marvelous genius is unique. In my own teaching I have
only to recall his tone, his playing in his little cottage on the banks
of the Meuse which the tide of war has swept away, to realize in a
cumulative sense the things he tried to make plain to me then. Ysaye
taught the technic of expression as against the expression of technic.
He gave the lessons of a thousand teachers in place of the lessons of
one. The greatest technical development was required by Ysaye of a
pupil; and given this pre-requisite, he could open up to him ever
enlarging horizons of musical beauty.

"Nor did he think that the true beauty of violin playing must depend
upon six to eight hours of daily practice work. I absolutely believe
with Ysaye that unless a student can make satisfactory progress with
three hours of practice a day, he should not attempt to play the violin.
Inability to do so is in itself a confession of failure at the outset.
Nor do I think it possible to practice the violin intensively more than
three-quarters of an hour at a time. In order to utilize his three hours
of practice to the best advantage the student should divide them into
four periods, with intervals of rest between each, and these rest
periods might simply represent a transfer of energy--which is a rest in
itself--to reading or some other occupation not necessarily germane to
music, yet likely to stimulate interest in some other art.


"The violin student first and foremost should accustom himself to
practicing purely technical exercises without notes. The scales and
arpeggios should never be played otherwise and books of scales should be
used only as a reference. Quite as important as scale practice are
broken chords. On the violin these cannot be played _solidly_, as on the
piano; but must be studied as arpeggios, in the most exhaustive way,
harmonically and technically. Their great value lies in developing an
innate musical sense, in establishing an idea of tonality and harmony
that becomes so deeply rooted that every other key is as natural to the
player as is the key of C. Work of this kind can never be done ideally
in class. But every individual student must himself come to realize the
necessity of doing technical work without notes as a matter of daily
exercise, even though his time be limited. Perhaps the most difficult of
all lessons is learning to hold the violin. There are pupils to whom
holding the instrument presents insurmountable obstacles. Such pupils,
instead of struggling in vain with a physical difficulty, might rather
take up the study of the 'cello, whose weight rests on the floor. That
many a student was not intended to be a violin player by nature is
proved by the various inventions, chin-rests, braces, intended to supply
what nature has not supplied. The study of the violin should never be
allowed if it is going to result in actual physical deformity: raising
of the left shoulder, malformation of the back, or eruptions resulting
from chin-rest pressure. These are all evidences of physical unfitness,
or of incorrect teaching.


"Class study is for the advanced student, not the beginner. In the
beginning only the closest personal contact between the individual pupil
and the teacher is desirable. To borrow an analogy from nature, the
student may be compared to the young bird whose untrained wings will not
allow him to take any trial flights unaided by his natural guardian. For
the beginning violinist the principal thing to do is to learn the 'voice
placing' of the violin. This goes hand in hand with the proper--which is
the easy and natural--manner of holding the violin, bow study, and an
appreciation of the acoustics of the instrument. The student's attention
should at once be called to the marvelous and manifold qualities of the
violin tone, and he should at once familiarize himself with the
development of those contrasts of stress and pressure, ease and
relaxation which are instrumental in its production. The analogies
between the violin voice and the human voice should also be developed.
The violin itself must to all intents become a part of the player
himself, just as the vocal chords are part of the human body. It should
not be considered a foreign tone-producing instrument adjusted to the
body of the performer; but an extension, a projection of his physical
self. In a way it is easier for the violinist to get at the chords of
the violin and make them sound, since they are all exposed, which is not
the case with the singer.

"There are two dangerous points in present-day standards of violin
teaching. One is represented by the very efficient European professional
standards of technic, which may result in an absolute failure of poetic
musical comprehension. These should not be transplanted here from
European soil. The other is the non-technical, sentimental, formless
species of teaching which can only result in emotional enervation. Yet
if forced to choose between the two the former would be preferable since
without tools it is impossible to carve anything of beauty. The final
beauty of the violin tone, the pure _legato_, remains in the beginning
as in the end a matter of holding the violin and bow. Together they
'place' the tone just as the physical _media_ in the throat 'place' the
tone of the voice.

"Piano teachers have made greater advances in the tone developing
technic of their instrument than the violin teachers. One reason is,
that as a class they are more intellectual. And then, too, violin
teaching is regarded too often as a mystic art, an occult science, and
one into which only those specially gifted may hope to be initiated.
This, it seems to me, is a fallacy. Just as a gift for mathematics is a
special talent not given to all, so a _natural_ technical talent exists
in relatively few people. Yet this does not imply that the majority are
shut off from playing the violin and playing it well. Any student who
has music in his soul may be taught to play simple, and even relatively
more difficult music with beauty, beauty of expression and
interpretation. This he may be taught to do even though not endowed with
a _natural_ technical facility for the violin. A proof that natural
technical facility is anything but a guarantee of higher musicianship is
shown in that the musical weakness of many brilliant violinists, hidden
by the technical elaboration of virtuoso pieces, is only apparent when
they attempt to play a Beethoven _adagio_ or a simple Mozart _rondo_.

"In a number of cases the unsuccessful solo player has a bad effect on
violin teaching. Usually the soloist who has not made a success as a
concert artist takes up teaching as a last resort, without enthusiasm or
the true vocational instinct. The false standards he sets up for his
pupils are a natural result of his own ineffectual worship of the fetish
of virtuosity--those of the musical mountebank of a hundred years ago.
Of course such false prophets of the virtuose have nothing in common
with such high-priests of public utterance as Ysaye, Kreisler and
others, whose virtuosity is a true means for the higher development of
the musical. The encouragement of musicianship in general suffers for
the stress laid on what is obviously technical _impedimenta_. But more
and more, as time passes, the playing of such artists as those already
mentioned, and others like them, shows that the real musician is the
lover of beautiful sound, which technic merely develops in the highest

"To-day technic in a cumulative sense often is a confession of failure.
For technic does not do what it so often claims to--produce the artist.
Most professional teaching aims to prepare the student for professional
life, the concert stage. Hence there is an intensive _technical_ study
of compositions that even if not wholly intended for display are
primarily and principally projected for its sake. It is a well-known
fact that few, even among gifted players, can sit down to play chamber
music and do it justice. This is not because they cannot grasp or
understand it; or because their technic is insufficient. It is because
their whole violinistic education has been along the line of solo
playing; they have literally been brought up, not to play _with_ others,
but to be accompanied _by_ others.

"Yet despite all this there has been a notable development of violin
study in the direction of _ensemble_ work with, as a result, an attitude
on the part of the violinists cultivating it, of greater humility as
regards music in general, a greater appreciation of the charm of
artistic collaboration: and--I insist--a technic both finer and more
flexible. Chamber music--originally music written for the intimate
surroundings of the home, for a small circle of listeners--carries out
in its informal way many of the ideals of the larger orchestral
_ensemble_. And, as regards the violinist, he is not dependent only on
the literature of the string quartet; there are piano quintets and
quartets, piano trios, and the duos for violin and piano. Some of the
most beautiful instrumental thoughts of the classic and modern
composers are to be found in the duo for violin and piano, mainly in the
sonata form. Amateurs--violinists who love music for its own sake, and
have sufficient facility to perform such works creditably--do not do
nearly enough _ensemble_ playing with a pianist. It is not always
possible to get together the four players needed for the string quartet,
but a pianist is apt to be more readily found.

"The combination of violin and piano is as a rule obtainable and the
literature is particularly rich. Aside from sonatas by Corelli,
Locatelli, Tartini, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Haendel, Brahms and
Schumann, nearly all the romantic and modern composers have contributed
to it. And this music has all been written so as to show the character
of each instrument at its best--the piano, harmonic in its nature; the
violin, a natural melodic voice, capable of every shade of _nuance_."
That Mr. Mannes, as an artist, has made a point of "practicing what he
preaches" to the student as regards the _ensemble_ of violin and piano
will be recalled by all who have enjoyed the 'Sonata Recitals' he has
given together with Mrs. Mannes. And as an interpreting solo artist his
views regarding the moot question of gut _versus_ wire strings are of

                        GUT VERSUS WIRE STRINGS

"My own violin, a Maggini of more than the usual size, dates from the
year 1600. It formerly belonged to Dr. Leopold Damrosch. Which strings
do I use on it? The whole question as to whether gut or wire strings are
to be preferred may, in my opinion, be referred to the violin itself for
decision. What I mean is that if Stradivarius, Guarnerius, Amati,
Maggini and others of the old-master builders of violins had ever had
wire strings in view, they would have built their fiddles in accordance,
and they would not be the same we now possess. First of all there are
scientific reasons against using the wire strings. They change the tone
of the instrument. The rigidity of tension of the wire E string where it
crosses the bridge tightens up the sound of the lower strings. Their
advantages are: reliability under adverse climatic conditions and the
incontestable fact that they make things easier technically. They
facilitate purity of intonation. Yet I am willing to forgo these
advantages when I consider the wonderful pliability of the gut strings
for which Stradivarius built his violins. I can see the artistic
retrogression of those who are using the wire E, for when materially
things are made easier, spiritually there is a loss.

                              CHIN RESTS

"And while we are discussing the physical aspects of the instrument
there is the 'chin rest.' None of the great violin makers ever made a
'chin rest.' Increasing technical demands, sudden pyrotechnical flights
into the higher octaves brought the 'chin rest' into being. The 'chin
rest' was meant to give the player a better grasp of his instrument. I
absolutely disapprove, in theory, of chin rest, cushion or pad.
Technical reasons may be adduced to justify their use, never artistic
ones. I admit that progress in violin study is infinitely slower without
the use of the pad; but the more close and direct a contact with his
instrument the player can develop, the more intimately expressive his
playing becomes. Students with long necks and thin bodies claim they
have to use a 'chin rest,' but the study of physical adjustments could
bring about a better cooerdination between them and the instrument. A
thin pad may be used without much danger, yet I feel that the thicker
and higher the 'chin rest' the greater the loss in expressive rendering.
The more we accustom ourselves to mechanical aids, the more we will come
to rely on them.... But the question you ask anent 'Violin Mastery'
leads altogether away from the material!

                             VIOLIN MASTERY

"To me it signifies technical efficiency coupled with poetic insight,
freedom from conventionally accepted standards, the attainment of a more
varied personal expression along individual lines. It may be realized,
of course, only to a degree, since the possessor of absolute 'Violin
Mastery' would be forever glorified. As it is the violin master, as I
conceive him, represents the embodier of the greatest intimacy between
himself, the artist, and his medium of expression. Considered in this
light Pablo Casals and his 'cello, perhaps, most closely comply with the
requirements of the definition. And this is not as paradoxical as it may
seem, since all string instruments are brethren, descended from the
ancient viol, and the 'cello is, after all, a variant of the violin!"


                              TIVADAR NACHEZ


Tivadar Nachez, the celebrated violin virtuoso, is better known as a
concertizing artist in Europe, where he has played with all the leading
symphonic orchestras, than in this country, to which he paid his first
visit during these times of war, and which he was about to leave for his
London home when the writer had the pleasure of meeting him. Yet, though
he has not appeared in public in this country (if we except some Red
Cross concerts in California, at which he gave his auditors of his best
to further our noblest war charity), his name is familiar to every
violinist. For is not Mr. Nachez the composer of the "Gypsy Dances" for
violin and piano, which have made him famous?

Genuinely musical, effective and largely successful as they have been,
however, as any one who has played them can testify, the composer of
the "Gypsy Dances" regards them with mixed feelings. "I have done other
work that seems to me, relatively, much more important," said Mr.
Nachez, "but when my name happens to be mentioned, echo always answers
'Gypsy Dances,' my little rubbishy 'Gypsy Dances!' It is not quite fair.
I have published thirty-five works, among them a 'Requiem Mass,' an
orchestral overture, two violin concertos, three rhapsodies for violin
and orchestra, variations on a Swiss theme, Romances, a Polonaise
(dedicated to Ysaye), and Evening Song, three _Poemes hongrois_, twelve
classical masterworks of the 17th century--to say nothing of songs,
etc.--and the two concertos of Vivaldi and Nardini which I have edited,
practically new creations, owing to the addition of the piano
accompaniments and orchestral score. I wrote the 'Gypsy Dances' as a
mere boy when I was studying with H. Leonard in Paris, and really at his
suggestion. In one of my lessons I played Sarasate's 'Spanish Dances,'
which chanced to be published at the time, and at once made a great hit.
So Leonard said to me: 'Why not write some _Hungarian_ Gypsy
dances--there must be wonderful material at hand in the music of the
_Tziganes_ of Hungary. You should do something with it!' I took him at
his word, and he liked my 'Dances' so well that he made me play them at
his musical evenings, which he gave often during the winter, and which
were always attended by the musical _Tout Paris!_ I may say that during
these last thirty years there has been scarcely a violinist before the
public who at one time or the other has _not_ played these 'Gypsy
Dances.' Besides the _original_ edition, there are two (pirated!)
editions in America and six in Europe.

        [Illustration: TIVADAR NACHEZ, with hand-written note]


"No, Leonard was not my first teacher. I took up violin work when a boy
of five years of age, and for seven years practiced from eight to ten
hours a day, studying with Sabathiel, the leader of the Royal Orchestra
in Budapest, where I was born, though England, the land of my adoption,
in which I have lived these last twenty-six years, is the land where I
have found all my happiness, and much gratifying honor, and of which I
have been a devoted, ardent and loyal naturalized citizen for more than
a quarter of a century. Sabathiel was an excellent routine teacher, and
grounded me well in the fundamentals--good tone production and
technical control. Later I had far greater teachers, and they taught me
much, but--in the last analysis, most of the little I have achieved I
owe to myself, to hard, untiring work: I had determined to be a
violinist and I trust I became one. No serious student of the instrument
should ever forget that, no matter who his teacher may be, he himself
must supply the determination, the continued energy and devotion which
will lead him to success.

"Playing with Liszt--he was an intimate friend of my father--is my most
precious musical recollection of Budapest. I enjoyed it a great deal
more than my regular lesson work. He would condescend to play with me
some evenings and you can imagine what rare musical enjoyment, what
happiness there was in playing with such a genius! I was still a boy
when with him I played the Grieg F major sonata, which had just come
fresh from the press. He played with me the D minor sonata of Schumann
and introduced me to the mystic beauties of the Beethoven sonatas. I can
still recall how in the Beethoven C minor sonata, in the first movement,
Liszt would bring out a certain broken chromatic passage in the left
hand, with a mighty _crescendo_, an effect of melodious thunder, of
enormous depth of tone, and yet with the most exquisite regard for the
balance between the violin and his own instrument. And there was not a
trace of condescension in his attitude toward me; but always
encouragement, a tender affectionate and paternal interest in a young
boy, who at _that moment_ was a brother artist.

"Through Liszt I came to know the great men of Hungarian music of that
time: Erkel, Hans Richter, Robert Volkmann, Count Geza Zichy, and
eventually I secured a scholarship, which the King had founded for
music, to study with Joachim in Berlin, where I remained nearly three
years. Hubay was my companion there; but afterward we separated, he
going to Vieuxtemps, while I went to Leonard.


"Joachim was, perhaps, the most celebrated teacher of his time. Yet it
is one of the greatest ironies of fate that when he died there was not
one of his pupils who was considered by the German authorities 'great'
enough to take the place the Master had held. Henri Marteau, who was
not his pupil, and did not even exemplify his style in playing, was
chosen to succeed him! Henri Petri, a Vieuxtemps pupil who went to
Joachim, played just as well when he came to him as when he left him.
The same might be said of Willy Burmester, Hess, Kes and Halir, the
latter one of those Bohemian artists who had a tremendous 'Kubelik-like'
execution. Teaching is and always will be a special gift. There are many
minor artists who are wonderful 'teachers,' and _vice versa_!

"Yet if Joachim may be criticized as regards the way of imparting the
secrets of technical phases in his violin teaching, as a teacher of
interpretation he was incomparable! As an interpreter of Beethoven and
of Bach in particular, there has never been any one to equal Joachim.
Yet he never played the same Bach composition twice in the same way. We
were four in our class, and Hubay and I used to bring our copies of the
sonatas with us, to make marginal notes while Joachim played to us, and
these instantaneous musical 'snapshots' remain very interesting. But no
matter how Joachim played Bach, it was always with a big tone, broad
chords of an organ-like effect. There is no greater discrepancy than the
edition of the Bach sonatas published (since his death) by Moser, and
which is supposed to embody Joachim's interpretation. Sweeping chords,
which Joachim always played with the utmost breadth, are 'arpeggiated'
in Moser's edition! Why, if any of his pupils had ever attempted to
play, for instance, the end of the _Bouree_ in the B minor _Partita_ of
Bach _a la Moser_, Joachim would have broken his bow over their heads!

                          STUDYING WITH LEONARD

"After three years' study I left Joachim and went to Paris. Liszt had
given me letters of introduction to various French artists, among them
Saint-Saens. One evening I happened to hear Leonard play Corelli's _La
Folia_ in the _Salle Pleyel_, and the liquid clarity and beauty of his
tone so impressed me that I decided I must study with him. I played for
him and he accepted me as a pupil. I am free to admit that my tone,
which people seem to be pleased to praise especially, I owe entirely to
Leonard, for when I came to him I had the so-called 'German tone' (_son
allemand_), of a harsh, rasping quality, which I tried to abandon
absolutely. Leonard often would point to his ears while teaching and
say: '_Ouvrez vos oreilles: ecoutez la beaute du son!_' ('Open your
ears, listen for beauty of sound!'). Most Joachim pupils you hear
(unless they have reformed) attack a chord with the nut of the bow, the
German method, which unduly stresses the attack. Leonard, on the
contrary, insisted with his pupils on the attack being made with such
smoothness as to be absolutely unobtrusive. Being a nephew of Mme.
Malibran, he attached special importance to the 'singing' tone, and
advised his pupils to hear great singers, to _listen_ to them, and to
try and reproduce their _bel canto_ on the violin.

"He was most particular in his observance of every _nuance_ of shading
and expression. He told me that when he played Mendelssohn's concerto
(for the first time) at the Leipsic _Gewandhaus_, at a rehearsal,
Mendelssohn himself conducting, he began the first phrase with a full
_mezzo-forte_ tone. Mendelssohn laid his hand on his arm and said: 'But
it begins _piano!_' In reply Leonard merely pointed with his bow to the
score--the _p_ which is now indicated in all editions had been omitted
by some printer's error, and he had been quite within his rights in
playing _mezzo-forte_.

"Leonard paid a great deal of attention to scales and the right way to
practice them. He would say, _'Il faut filer les sons: c'est l'art des
maitres_. ('One must spin out the tone: that is the art of the
masters.') He taught his pupils to play the scales with long, steady
bowings, counting sixty to each bow. Himself a great classical
violinist, he nevertheless paid a good deal of attention to _virtuoso_
pieces; and always tried to prepare his pupils for _public life_. He had
all sorts of wise hints for the budding concert artist, and was in the
habit of saying: 'You must plan a program as you would the _menu_ of a
dinner: there should be something for every one's taste. And,
especially, if you are playing on a long program, together with other
artists, offer nothing indigestible--let _your_ number be a relief!'


"While studying with Leonard I met Sivori, Paganini's only pupil (if we
except Catarina Caleagno), for whom Paganini wrote a concerto and six
short sonatas. Leonard took me to see him late one evening at the _Hotel
de Havane_ in Paris, where Sivori was staying. When we came to his room
we heard the sound of slow scales, beautifully played, coming from
behind the closed door. We peered through the keyhole, and there he sat
on his bed stringing his scale tones like pearls. He was a little chap
and had the tiniest hands I have ever seen. Was this a drawback? If so,
no one could tell from his playing; he had a flawless technic, and a
really pearly quality of tone. He was very jolly and amiable, and he and
Leonard were great friends, each always going to hear the other whenever
he played in concert. My four years in Paris were in the main years of
storm and stress--plain living and hard, very hard, concentrated work. I
gave some accompanying lessons to help keep things going. When I left
Paris I went to London and then began my public life as a concert


"What is the happiest remembrance of my career as a _virtuoso_? Some of
the great moments in my life as an artist? It is hard to say. Of course
some of my court appearances before the crowned heads of Europe are dear
to me, not so much because they were _court_ appearances, but because of
the graciousness and appreciation of the highly placed personages for
whom I played.

"Then, what I count a signal honor, I have played no less than _three_
times as a solo artist with the Royal Philharmonic Society of London,
the oldest symphonic society in Europe, for whom Beethoven composed his
immortal IXth symphony (once under Sir Arthur Sullivan's baton; once
under that of Sir A.C. Mackenzie, and once with Sir Frederick Cowen as
conductor--on this last occasion I was asked to introduce my new Second
concerto in B minor, Op. 36, at the time still in ms.) Then there is
quite a number of great conductors with whom I have appeared, a few
among them being Liszt, Rubinstein, Brahms, Pasdeloup, Sir August Manns,
Sir Charles Halle, L. Mancinelli, Weingartner and Hans Richter, etc.
Perhaps, as a violinist, what I like best to recall is that as a boy I
was invited by Richter to go with him to Bayreuth and play at the
foundation of the Bayreuth festival theater, which however my parents
would _not_ permit owing to my tender age. I also remember with pleasure
an episode at the famous Pasdeloup Concerts in the _Cirque d'hiver_ in
Paris, on an occasion when I performed the F sharp minor concerto of
Ernst. After I had finished, two ladies came to the green room: they
were in deep mourning, and one of them greatly moved, asked me to 'allow
her to thank me' for the manner in which I had played this
concerto--she said: _'I am the widow of Ernst!'_ She also told me that
since his death she had never heard the concerto played as I had played
it! In presenting to me her companion, the Marquise de Gallifet (wife of
the General de Gallifet who led the brigade of the _Chasseurs d'Afrique_
in the heroic charge of General Margueritte's cavalry division at Sedan,
which excited the admiration of the old king of Prussia), I had the
honor of meeting the once world famous violinist Mlle. Millanollo, as
she was before her marriage. Mme. Ernst often came to hear me play her
late husband's music, and as a parting gift presented me with his
beautiful 'Tourte' bow, and an autographed copy of the first edition of
Ernst's transcription for solo violin of Schubert's 'Erlking.' It is so
incredibly difficult to play with proper balance of melody and
accompaniment--I never heard any one but Kubelik play it--that it is
almost impossible. It is so difficult, in fact, that it should not be

                     VIOLINS AND STRINGS: SARASATE

"My violin? I am a Stradivarius player, and possess two fine Strads,
though I also have a beautiful Joseph Guarnerius. Ysaye, Thibaud and
Caressa, when they lunched with me not long ago, were enthusiastic about
them. My favorite Strad is a 1716 instrument--I have used it for
twenty-five years. But I cannot use the wire strings that are now in
such vogue here. I have to have Italian gut strings. The wire E cuts my
fingers, and besides I notice a perceptible difference in sound quality.
Of course, wire strings are practical; they do not 'snap' on the concert
stage. Speaking of strings that 'snap,' reminds me that the first time I
heard Sarasate play the Saint-Saens concerto, at Frankfort, he twice
forgot his place and stopped. They brought him the music, he began for
the third time and then--the E string snapped! I do not think _any_
other than Sarasate could have carried off these successive mishaps and
brought his concert to a triumphant conclusion. He was a great friend of
mine and one of the most _perfect_ players I have ever known, as well as
one of the greatest _grand seigneurs_ among violinists. His rendering of
romantic works, Saint-Saens, Lalo, Bruch, was exquisite--I have never,
never heard them played as beautifully. On the other hand, his Bach
playing was excruciating--he played Bach sonatas as though they were
virtuoso pieces. It made one think of Hans von Buelow's _mot_ when, in
speaking of a certain famous pianist, he said: 'He plays Beethoven with
velocity and Czerny with expression.' But to hear Sarasate play romantic
music, his own 'Spanish Dances' for instance, was all like glorious
birdsong and golden sunshine, a lark soaring heavenwards!

                       THE NARDINI CONCERTO IN A

"You ask about my compositions? Well, Eddy Brown is going to play my
Second violin concerto, Op. 36 in B flat, which I wrote for the London
Philharmonic Society, next season; Elman the Nardini concerto in A,
which was published only shortly before the outbreak of the war. Thirty
years ago I found, by chance, three old Nardini concertos for violin and
bass in the composer's _original_ ms., in Bologna. The best was the one
in A--a beautiful work! But the bass was not even figured, and the task
of reconstructing the accompaniment for piano, as well as for orchestra,
and reverently doing justice to the composer's original intent and idea;
while at the same time making its beauties clearly and expressively
available from the standpoint of the violinist of to-day, was not easy.
Still, I think I may say I succeeded." And Mr. Nachez showed me some
letters from famous contemporaries who had made the acquaintance of this
Nardini concerto in A major. Auer, Thibaud, Sir Hubert Parry (who said
that he had "infused the work with new life"), Pollak, Switzerland's
ranking fiddler, Carl Flesch, author of the well-known _Urstudien_--all
expressed their admiration. One we cannot forbear quoting a letter in
part. It was from Ottokar Sevcik. The great Bohemian pedagogue is
usually regarded as the apostle of mechanism in violin playing: as the
inventor of an inexorably logical system of development, which stresses
the technical at the expense of the musical. The following lines show
him in quite a different light:

     "I would not be surprised if Nardini, Vivaldi and their
     companions were to appear to you at the midnight hour in
     order to thank the master for having given new life to
     their works, long buried beneath the mold of figured
     basses; works whose vital, pulsating possibilities these
     old gentlemen probably never suspected. Nardini emerges
     from your alchemistic musical laboratory with so fresh
     and lively a quality of charm that starving fiddlers will
     greet him with the same pleasure with which the bee
     greets the first honeyed blossom of spring."

                              VIOLIN MASTERY

"And now you want my definition of 'Violin Mastery'? To me the whole art
of playing violin is contained in the reverent and respectful
interpretation of the works of the great masters. I consider the artist
only their messenger, singing the message they give us. And the more one
realizes this, the greater becomes one's veneration especially for
Bach's creative work. For twenty years I never failed to play the Bach
solo sonatas for violin every day of my life--a violinist's 'daily
prayer' in its truest sense! Students of Bach are apt, in the beginning,
to play, say, the _finale_ of the G minor sonata, the final _Allegro_ of
the A minor sonata, the _Gigue_ of the B minor, or the _Preludio_ of the
E major sonata like a mechanical exercise: it takes _constant_ study to
disclose their intimate harmonic melodious conception and poetry! One
should always remember that technic is, after all, only a _means_. It
must be acquired in order to be an unhampered master of the instrument,
as a medium for presenting the thoughts of the great creators--but
_these thoughts_, and not their medium of expression, are the chief
objects of the true and great artist, whose aim in life is to serve his
Art humbly, reverently and faithfully! You remember these words:

"'In the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of
passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it
smoothness. Oh, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious,
periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split
the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of
nothing but inexplicable dumbshows and noise!...'"


                           MAXIMILIAN PILZER


Maximilian Pilzer is deservedly prominent among younger American concert
violinists. A pupil of Joachim, Shradieck, Gustav Hollander, he is, as
it has already been picturesquely put, "a graduate of the rock and thorn
university," an artist who owes his success mainly to his own natural
gifts plus an infinite capacity for taking pains. Though primarily an
interpreter his interlocutor yet had the good fortune to happen on Mr.
Pilzer when he was giving a lesson. Essentially a solo violinist, Mr.
Pilzer nevertheless has the born teacher's wish to impart, to share,
where talent justifies it, his own knowledge. He himself did not have to
tell the listener this--the lesson he was giving betrayed the fact.

It was Kreisler's _Tambourin Chinois_ that the student played. And as
Mr. Pilzer illustrated the delicate shades of _nuance_, of phrasing, of
bowing, with instant rebuke for an occasional lack of "warmth" in tone,
the improvement was instantaneous and unmistakable. The lesson over, he

                            THE SINGING TONE

"The singing tone is the ideal one, it is the natural violin tone. Too
many violin students have the technical bee in their bonnet and neglect
it. And too many believe that speed is brilliancy. When they see the
black notes they take for granted that they must 'run to beat the band.'
Yet often it is the teacher's fault if a good singing tone is not
developed. Where the teacher's playing is cold, that of the pupil is apt
to be the same. Warmth, rounded fullness, the truly beautiful violin
tone is more difficult to call forth than is generally supposed. And, in
a manner of speaking, the soul of this tone quality is the _vibrato_,
though the individual instrument also has much to do with the tone.

                              THE VIBRATO

"But not," Mr. Pilzer continued, "not as it is too often mistakenly
employed. Of course, any trained player will draw his bow across the
strings in a smooth, even way, but that is not enough. There must be an
inner, emotional instinct, an electric spark within the player himself
that sets the _vibrato_ current in motion. It is an inner, psychic
vibration which should be reflected by the intense, rapid vibration in
the fingers of the left hand on the strings in order to give fluent
expression to emotion. The _vibrato_ can not be used, naturally, on the
open strings, but otherwise it represents the true means for securing
warmth of expression. Of course, some decry the _vibrato_--but the
reason is often because the _vibrato_ is too slow. One need only listen
to Ysaye, Elman, Kreisler: artists such as these employ the quick,
intense _vibrato_ with ideal effect. An exaggerated _vibrato_ is as bad
as what I call 'the sentimental slide,' a common fault, which many
violinists cultivate under the impression that they are playing


"Violin mastery expresses more or less the aspiration to realize an
ideal. It is a hope, a prayer, rather than an actual fact, since nothing
human is absolutely perfect. Ysaye, perhaps, with his golden tone, comes
nearest to my idea of what violin mastery should be, both as regards
breadth and delicacy of interpretation. And guide-posts along the long
road that leads to mastery of the instrument? Individuality in teaching,
progress along natural lines, surety in bowing, a tone-production
without forcing, cultivating a sense of rhythm and accent. I always
remember what Moser once wrote in my autograph album: 'Rhythm and accent
are the soul of music!'

                           THE SHINING GOAL

"And what a shining goal is waiting to be reached! The correct
interpretation of Bach, Haendel and the old Italian and French classics,
and of the vast realm of _ensemble_ music under which head come the
Mozart and Beethoven violin sonatas, and those of their successors,
Schumann, Brahms, etc. And aside from the classics, the moderns. And
then there are the great violin concertos, in a class by themselves.
They represent, in a degree, the utmost that the composer has done for
the interpreting artist. Yet they differ absolutely in manner, style,
thought, etc. Take Joachim's own Hungarian concerto, which I played for
the composer, of which I still treasure the recollection of his patting
me on the shoulder and saying: 'There is nothing for me to correct!' It
is a work deliberately designed for technical display, and is
tremendously difficult. But the wonderful Brahms concerto, those of
Beethoven and Max Bruch; of Mozart and Mendelssohn--it is hard to
express a preference for works so different in the quality of their
beauty. The Russian Conus has a fine concerto in E, and Sinding a most
effective one in A major. Edmund Severn, the American composer and
violinist, has also written a notably fine violin concerto which I have
played, with the Philharmonic, one that ought to be heard oftener.

                             PLAYING BACH

"Bach is one of the most difficult of the great masters to interpret on
the violin. His polyphonic style and interweaving themes demand close
study in order to make the meaning clear. In the Bach _Chaconne_, for
instance, some very great violinists do not pay enough attention to
making a distinction between principal and secondary notes of a chord.
Here [Mr. Pilzer took up a new Strad he has recently acquired and
illustrated his meaning] in this four-note chord there is one important
melody note which must stand out. And it can be done, though not without
some study. Bach abounds in such pitfalls, and in studying him the
closest attention is necessary. Once the problems involved overcome, his
music gains its true clarity and beauty and the enjoyment of artist and
listener is doubled.


                               MAUD POWELL

                         FOR THE CONCERT PLAYER

Maud Powell is often alluded to as our representative "American _woman_
violinist" which, while true in a narrower sense, is not altogether just
in a broader way. It would be decidedly more fair to consider her a
representative American violinist, without stressing the term "woman";
for as regards Art in its higher sense, the artist comes first, sex
being incidental, and Maud Powell is first and foremost--an artist. And
her infinite capacity for taking pains, her willingness to work hard
have had no small part in the position she has made for herself, and the
success she has achieved.


"Too many Americans who take up the violin professionally," Maud Powell
told the writer, "do not realize that the mastery of the instrument is
a life study, that without hard, concentrated work they cannot reach the
higher levels of their art. Then, too, they are too often inclined to
think that if they have a good tone and technic that this is all they
need. They forget that the musical instinct must be cultivated; they do
not attach enough importance to musical surroundings: to hearing and
understanding music of every kind, not only that written for the violin.
They do not realize the value of _ensemble_ work and its influence as an
educational factor of the greatest artistic value. I remember when I was
a girl of eight, my mother used to play the Mozart violin sonatas with
me; I heard all the music I possibly could hear; I was taught harmony
and musical form in direct connection with my practical work, so that
theory was a living thing to me and no abstraction. In my home town I
played in an orchestra of twenty pieces--Oh, no, not a 'ladies
orchestra'--the other members were men grown! I played chamber music as
well as solos whenever the opportunity offered, at home and in public.
In fact music was part of my life.

          [Illustration: MAUD POWELL, with hand-written note]

"No student who looks on music primarily as a thing apart in his
existence, as a bread-winning tool, as a craft rather than an art,
can ever mount to the high places. So often girls [who sometimes lack
the practical vision of boys], although having studied but a few years,
come to me and say: 'My one ambition is to become a great _virtuoso_ on
the violin! I want to begin to study the great concertos!' And I have to
tell them that their first ambition should be to become musicians--to
study, to know, to understand music before they venture on its
interpretation. Virtuosity without musicianship will not carry one far
these days. In many cases these students come from small inland towns,
far from any music center, and have a wrong attitude of mind. They crave
the glamor of footlights, flowers and applause, not realizing that music
is a speech, an idiom, which they must master in order to interpret the
works of the great composers.

                     THE INFLUENCE OF THE TEACHER

"Of course, all artistic playing represents essentially the mental
control of technical means. But to acquire the latter in the right way,
while at the same time developing the former, calls for the best of
teachers. The problem of the teacher is to prevent his pupils from being
too imitative--all students are natural imitators--and furthering the
quality of musical imagination in them. Pupils generally have something
of the teacher's tone--Auer pupils have the Auer tone, Joachim pupils
have a Joachim tone, an excellent thing. But as each pupil has an
individuality of his own, he should never sink it altogether in that of
his teacher. It is this imitative trend which often makes it hard to
judge a young player's work. I was very fortunate in my teachers.
William Lewis of Chicago gave me a splendid start. Then I studied in
turn with Schradieck in Leipsic--Schradieck himself was a pupil of
Ferdinand David and of Leonard--Joachim in Berlin, and Charles Dancla in
Paris. I might say that I owe most, in a way, to William Lewis, a born
fiddler. Of my three European masters Dancla was unquestionably the
greatest as a teacher--of course I am speaking for myself. It was no
doubt an advantage, a decided advantage for me in my artistic
development, which was slow--a family trait--to enjoy the broadening
experience of three entirely different styles of teaching, and to be
able to assimilate the best of each. Yet Joachim was a far greater
violinist than teacher. His method was a cramping one, owing to his
insistence on pouring all his pupils into the same mold, so to speak,
of forming them all on the Joachim lathe. But Dancla was inspiring. He
taught me De Beriot's wonderful method of attack; he showed me how to
develop purity of style. Dancla's method of teaching gave his pupils a
technical equipment which carried bowing right along, 'neck and neck'
with the finger work of the left hand, while the Germans are apt to
stress finger development at the expense of the bow. And without ever
neglecting technical means, Dancla always put the purely musical before
the purely virtuoso side of playing. And this is always a sign of a good
teacher. He was unsparing in taking pains and very fair.

"I remember that I was passed first in a class of eighty-four at an
examination, after only three private lessons in which to prepare the
concerto movement to be played. I was surprised and asked him why
Mlle.---- who, it seemed to me, had played better than I, had not
passed. 'Ah,' he said, 'Mlle.---- studied that movement for six months;
and in comparison, you, with only three lessons, play it better!' Dancla
switched me right over in his teaching from German to French methods,
and taught me how to become an artist, just as I had learned in Germany
to become a musician. The French school has taste, elegance,
imagination; the German is more conservative, serious, and has, perhaps,
more depth.

                          TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

"Perhaps it is because I belong to an older school, or it may be because
I laid stress on technic because of its necessity as a means of
expression--at any rate I worked hard at it. Naturally, one should never
practice any technical difficulty too long at a stretch. Young players
sometimes forget this. I know that _staccato_ playing was not easy for
me at one time. I believe a real _staccato_ is inborn; a knack. I used
to grumble about it to Joachim and he told me once that musically
_staccato_ did not have much value. His own, by the way, was very
labored and heavy. He admitted that he had none. Wieniawski had such a
wonderful _staccato_ that one finds much of it in his music. When I
first began to play his D minor concerto I simply made up my mind to get
a _staccato_. It came in time, by sheer force of will. After that I had
no trouble. An artistic _staccato_ should, like the trill, be plastic
and under control; for different schools of composition demand
different styles of treatment of such details.

"Octaves--the unison, not broken--I did not find difficult; but though
they are supposed to add volume of tone they sound hideous to me. I have
used them in certain passages of my arrangement of 'Deep River,' but
when I heard them played, promised myself I would never repeat the
experiment. Wilhelmj has committed even a worse crime in taste by
putting six long bars of Schubert's lovely _Ave Maria_ in octaves. Of
course they represent skill; but I think they are only justified in show
pieces. Harmonics I always found easy; though whether they ring out as
they should always depends more or less on atmospheric conditions, the
strings and the amount of rosin on the bow. On the concert stage if the
player stands in a draught the harmonics are sometimes husky.

                            AMERICAN MUSIC

"The old days of virtuoso 'tricks' have passed--I should like to hope
forever. Not that some of the old type virtuosos were not fine players.
Remenyi played beautifully. So did Ole Bull. I remember one favorite
trick of the latter's, for instance, which would hardly pass muster
to-day. I have seen him draw out a long _pp_, the audience listening
breathlessly, while he drew his bow way beyond the string, and then
looked innocently at the point of the bow, as though wondering where the
tone had vanished. It invariably brought down the house.

"Yet an artist must be a virtuoso in the modern sense to do his full
duty. And here in America that duty is to help those who are groping for
something higher and better musically; to help without rebuffing them.
When I first began my career as a concert violinist I did pioneer work
for the cause of the American woman violinist, going on with the work
begun by Mme. Camilla Urso. A strong prejudice then existed against
women fiddlers, which even yet has not altogether been overcome. The
very fact that a Western manager recently told Mr. Turner with surprise
that he 'had made a success of a woman artist' proves it. When I first
began to play here in concert this prejudice was much stronger. Yet I
kept on and secured engagements to play with orchestra at a time when
they were difficult to obtain. Theodore Thomas liked my playing (he
said I had brains), and it was with his orchestra that I introduced the
concertos of Saint-Saens (C min.), Lalo (F min.), and others, to
American audiences.

"The fact that I realized that my sex was against me in a way led me to
be startlingly authoritative and convincing in the masculine manner when
I first played. This is a mistake no woman violinist should make. And
from the moment that James Huneker wrote that I 'was not developing the
feminine side of my work,' I determined to be just myself, and play as
the spirit moved me, with no further thought of sex or sex distinctions
which, in Art, after all, are secondary. I never realized this more
forcibly than once, when, sitting as a judge, I listened to the
competitive playing of a number of young professional violinists and
pianists. The individual performers, unseen by the judges, played in
turn behind a screen. And in three cases my fellow judges and myself
guessed wrongly with regard to the sex of the players. When we thought
we had heard a young man play it happened to be a young woman, and _vice

"To return to the question of concert-work. You must not think that I
have played only foreign music in public. I have always believed in
American composers and in American composition, and as an American have
tried to do justice as an interpreting artist to the music of my native
land. Aside from the violin concertos by Harry Rowe Shelly and Henry
Holden Huss, I have played any number of shorter original compositions
by such representative American composers as Arthur Foote, Mrs. H.H.A.
Beach, Victor Herbert, John Philip Sousa, Arthur Bird, Edwin Grasse,
Marion Bauer, Cecil Burleigh, Harry Gilbert, A. Walter Kramer, Grace
White, Charles Wakefield Cadman and others. Then, too, I have presented
transcriptions by Arthur Hartmann, Francis Macmillan and Sol Marcosson,
as well as some of my own. Transcriptions are wrong, theoretically; yet
some songs, like Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Song of India' and some piano
pieces, like the Dvorak _Humoresque_, are so obviously effective on the
violin that a transcription justifies itself. My latest temptative in
that direction is my 'Four American Folk Songs,' a simple setting of
four well-known airs with connecting cadenzas--no variations, no special
development! I used them first as _encores_, but my audiences seemed to
like them so well that I have played them on all my recent programs.


"The very first thing in playing in public is to free oneself of all
distrust in one's own powers. To do this, nothing must be left to
chance. One should not have to give a thought to strings, bow, etc. All
should be in proper condition. Above all the violinist should play with
an accompanist who is used to accompanying him. It seems superfluous to
emphasize that one's program numbers must have been mastered in every
detail. Only then can one defy nervousness, turning excess of emotion
into inspiration.

"Acoustics play a greater part in the success of a public concert than
most people realize. In some halls they are very good, as in the case of
the Cleveland Hippodrome, an enormous place which holds forty-three
hundred people. Here the acoustics are perfect, and the artist has those
wonderful silences through which his slightest tones carry clearly and
sweetly. I have played not only solos, but chamber music in this hall,
and was always sorry to stop playing. In most halls the acoustic
conditions are best in the evening.

"Then there is the matter of the violin. I first used a Joseph
Guarnerius, a deeper toned instrument than the Jean Baptista Guadagnini
I have now played for a number of years. The Guarnerius has a tone that
seems to come more from within the instrument; but all in all I have
found my Guadagnini, with its glassy clearness, its brilliant and limpid
tone-quality, better adapted to American concert halls. If I had a Strad
in the same condition as my Guadagnini the instrument would be
priceless. I regretted giving up my Guarnerius, but I could not play the
two violins interchangeably; for they were absolutely different in size
and tone-production, shape, etc. Then my hand is so small that I ought
to use the instrument best adapted to it, and to use the same instrument
always. Why do I use no chin-rest? I use no chin-rest on my Guadagnini
simply because I cannot find one to fit my chin. One should use a
chin-rest to prevent perspiration from marring the varnish. My Rocca
violin is an interesting instance of wood worn in ridges by the stubble
on a man's chin.

"Strings? Well, I use a wire E string. I began to use it twelve years
ago one humid, foggy summer in Connecticut. I had had such trouble with
strings snapping that I cried: 'Give me anything but a gut string.' The
climate practically makes metal strings a necessity, though some kind
person once said that I bought wire strings because they were cheap! If
wire strings had been thought of when Theodore Thomas began his career,
he might never have been a conductor, for he told me he gave up the
violin because of the E string. And most people will admit that hearing
a wire E you cannot tell it from a gut E. Of course, it is unpleasant on
the open strings, but then the open strings never do sound well. And in
the highest registers the tone does not spin out long enough because of
the tremendous tension: one has to use more bow. And it cuts the hairs:
there is a little surface nap on the bow-hairs which a wire string wears
right out. I had to have my four bows rehaired three times last
season--an average of every three months. But all said and done it has
been a God-send to the violinist who plays in public. On the wire A one
cannot get the harmonics; and the aluminum D is objectionable in some
violins, though in others not at all.

"The main thing--no matter what strings are used--is for the artist to
get his audience into the concert hall, and give it a program which is
properly balanced. Theodore Thomas first advised me to include in my
programs short, simple things that my listeners could 'get hold
of'--nothing inartistic, but something selected from their standpoint,
not from mine, and played as artistically as possible. Yet there must
also be something that is beyond them, collectively. Something that they
may need to hear a number of times to appreciate. This enables the
artist to maintain his dignity and has a certain psychological effect in
that his audience holds him in greater respect. At big conservatories
where music study is the most important thing, and in large cities,
where the general level of music culture is high, a big solid program
may be given, where it would be inappropriate in other places.

"Yet I remember having many recalls at El Paso, Texas, once, after
playing the first movement of the Sibelius concerto. It is one of those
compositions which if played too literally leaves an audience quite
cold; it must be rendered temperamentally, the big climaxing effects
built up, its Northern spirit brought out, though I admit that even then
it is not altogether easy to grasp.

                            VIOLIN MASTERY

"Violin mastery or mastery of any instrument, for that matter, is the
technical power to say exactly what you want to say in exactly the way
you want to say it. It is technical equipment that stands at the service
of your musical will--a faithful and competent servant that comes at
your musical bidding. If your spirit soars 'to parts unknown,' your well
trained servant 'technic' is ever at your elbow to prevent irksome
details from hampering your progress. Mastery of your instrument makes
mastery of your Art a joy instead of a burden. Technic should always be
the hand-maid of the spirit.

"And I believe that one result of the war will be to bring us a greater
self-knowledge, to the violinist as well as to every other artist, a
broader appreciation of what he can do to increase and elevate
appreciation for music in general and his Art in particular. And with
these I am sure a new impetus will be given to the development of a
musical culture truly American in thought and expression."


                              LEON SAMETINI


Leon Sametini, at present director of the violin department of the
Chicago Music College, where Sauret, Heermann and Sebald preceded him,
is one of the most successful teachers of his instrument in this
country. It is to be regretted that he has not played in public in the
United States as often as in Europe, where his extensive _tournees_ in
Holland--Leon Sametini is a Hollander by birth--Belgium, England and
Austria have established his reputation as a virtuoso, and the quality
of his playing led Ysaye to include him in a quartet of artists "in
order of lyric expression" with himself and Thibaud. Yet, the fact
remains that this erstwhile _protege_ of Queen Wilhelmina--she gave him
his beautiful Santo Serafin (1730) violin, whose golden varnish back "is
a genuine picture,"--to quote its owner--is a distinguished interpreting
artist besides having a real teaching gift, which lends additional
weight to his educational views.

                         REMINISCENCES OF SEVCIK

"I began to study violin at the age of six, with my uncle. From him I
went to Eldering in Amsterdam, now Willy Hess's successor at the head of
the Cologne Conservatory, and then spent a year with Sevcik in Prague.
Yet--without being his pupil--I have learned more from Ysaye than from
any of my teachers. It is rather the custom to decry Sevcik as a
teacher, to dwell on his absolutely mechanical character of
instruction--and not without justice. First of all Sevcik laid all the
stress on the left hand and not on the bow--an absolute inversion of a
fundamental principle. Eldering had taken great pains with my bow
technic, for he himself was a pupil of Hubay, who had studied with
Vieuxtemps and had his tradition. But Sevcik's teaching as regards the
use of the bow was very poor; his pupils--take Kubelik with all his
marvelous finger facility--could never develop a big bow technic. Their
playing lacks strength, richness of sound. Sevcik soon noticed that my
bowing did not conform to his theories; yet since he could not
legitimately complain of the results I secured, he did not attempt to
make me change it. Musical beauty, interpretation, in Sevcik's case were
all subordinated to mechanical perfection. With him the study of some
inspired masterpiece was purely a mathematical process, a problem in
technic and mental arithmetic, without a bit of spontaneity. Ysaye used
to roar with laughter when I would tell him how, when a boy of fifteen,
I played the Beethoven concerto for Sevcik--a work which I myself felt
and knew it was then out of the question for me to play with artistic
maturity--the latter's only criticisms on my performance were that one
or two notes were a little too high, and a certain passage not quite

"Sevcik did not like the Dvorak concerto and never gave it to his
pupils. But I lived next door to Dvorak at Prague, and meeting him in
the street one day, asked him some questions anent its interpretation,
with the result that I went to his home various times and he gave me his
own ideas as to how it should be played. Sevcik never pointed his
teachings by playing himself. I never saw him take up the fiddle while I
studied with him. While I was his pupil he paid me the compliment of
selecting me to play Sinigaglia's engaging violin concerto, at short
notice, for the first time in Prague. Sinigaglia had asked Sevcik to
play it, who said: 'I no longer play violin, but I have a pupil who can
play it for you,' and introduced me to him. Sinigaglia became a good
friend of mine, and I was the first to introduce his _Rapsodia
Piedmontese_ for violin and orchestra in London. To return to
Sevcik--with all the deficiencies of his teaching methods, he had one
great gift. He taught his pupils _how to practice_! And--aside from
bowing--he made all mechanical problems, especially finger problems,
absolutely clear and lucid.

                              ALL MAY STUDY

"Still, all said and done, it was after I had finished with all my
teachers that I really began to learn to play violin: above all from
Ysaye, whom I went to hear play wherever and whenever I could. I think
that the most valuable lessons I have ever had are those unconsciously
given me by four of the greatest violinists I know: Ysaye, Kreisler,
Elman and Thibaud. Each of these artists is so different that no one
seems altogether to replace the other. Ysaye with his unique
personality, the immense breadth and sweep of his interpretation, his
dramatic strength, stands alone. Kreisler has a certain sparkling
scintillance in his playing that is his only. Elman might be called the
Caruso among violinists, with the perfected sensuous beauty of his tone;
while Thibaud stands for supreme elegance and distinction. I have
learned much from each member of this great quartet. And if the artist
can profit from hearing and seeing them play, why not the student? Every
recital given by such masters offers the earnest violin student
priceless opportunities for study and comparison. My special leaning
toward Ysaye is due, aside from his wonderful personality, to the fact
that I feel music in the same way that he does.

                           TEACHING PRINCIPLES

'My teaching principles are the results of my own training period, my
own experience as a concert artist and teacher--before I came to America
I taught in London, where Isolde Menges, among others, studied with
me--and what either directly or indirectly I have learned from my great
colleagues. In the Music College I give the advanced pupils their
individual lessons; but once a week the whole class assembles--as in
the European conservatories--and those whose turn it is to play do so
while the others listen. This is of value to every student, since it
gives him an opportunity of 'hearing himself as others hear him.' Then,
to stimulate appreciation and musical development there are _ensemble_
and string quartet classes. I believe that every violinist should be
able to play viola, and in quartet work I make the players shift
constantly from one to the other instrument in order to hear what they
play from a different angle.

"For left hand work I stick to the excellent Sevcik exercises and for
some pupils I use the Carl Flesch _Urstudien_. For studies of real
_musical_ value Rode, of course, is unexcelled. His studies are the
masterpieces of their kind, and I turn them into concert pieces. Thibaud
and Elman have supplied some of them with interesting piano

"For bowing, with the exception of a few purely mechanical exercises, I
used Kreutzer and Rode, and Gavinies. Ninety-nine per cent. of pupils'
faults are faults of bowing. It is an art in itself. Sevcik was able to
develop Kubelik's left hand work to the last degree of perfection--but
not his bowing. In the case of Kocian, another well-known Sevcik pupil
whom I have heard play, his bowing was by no means an outstanding
feature. I often have to start pupils on the open strings in order to
correct fundamental bow faults.

"When watching a great artist play the student should not expect to
secure similar results by slavish imitation--another pupil fault. The
thing to do is to realize the principle behind the artist's playing, and
apply it to one's own physical possibilities.

"Every one holds, draws and uses the bow in a different way. If no two
thumb-prints are alike, neither are any two sets of fingers and wrists.
This is why not slavish imitation, but intelligent adaptation should be
applied to the playing of the teacher in the class-room or the artist on
the concert-stage. For instance, the little finger of Ysaye's left hand
bends inward somewhat--as a result it is perfectly natural for him to
make less use of the little finger, while it might be very difficult or
almost impossible for another to employ the same fingering. And certain
compositions and styles of composition are more adapted to one violinist
than to another. I remember when I was a student, that Wieniawski's
music seemed to lie just right for my hand. I could read difficult
things of his at sight.

                           DOUBLE HARMONICS

"Would I care to discuss any special feature of violin technic? I might
say something anent double harmonics--a subject too often taught in a
mechanical way, and one I have always taken special pains to make
absolutely plain to my own pupils--for every violinist should be able to
play double harmonics out of a clear understanding of how to form them.

"There are only two kinds of harmonics: natural and artificial. Natural
harmonics may be formed on the major triad of each open string, using
the open string as the tonic. As, for example, on the G string [and Mr.
Sametini set down the following illustration]:

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

Then there are four kinds of artificial harmonics, only three of which
are used: harmonics on the major third (1); harmonics on the perfect
fourth (2); harmonics on the perfect fifth (3); and harmonics--never
used--on the octave:

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

Where does the harmonic sound in each case? Two octaves and a third
higher (1); two octaves higher (2); one octave and a fifth higher (3)
respectively, than the pressed-down note. If the harmonic on the octave
(4) were played, it would sound just an octave higher than the
pressed-down note.

"Now say we wished to combine different double harmonics. The whole
principle is made clear if we take, let us say, the first double-stop in
the scale of C major in thirds as an example:

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

"Beginning with the lower of these two notes, the C, we find that it
cannot not be taken as a natural harmonic

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

because natural harmonics on the open strings run as follows: G, B, D on
the G string; D, F{~MUSIC SHARP SIGN~}, A on the D string; A, C{~MUSIC SHARP SIGN~}, E on the A string; and
E, G{~MUSIC SHARP SIGN~}, B on the E string. There are three ways of taking the C before
mentioned as an artificial harmonic. The E may be taken in the following

           Nat. harmonic                     Artificial harmonic
  [Illustration: Musical Notation]    [Illustration: Musical Notation]

Now we have to combine the C and E as well as we are able. Rejecting
the following combinations as _impossible_--any violinist will see why--

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

we have a choice of the two _possible_ combinations remaining, with the
fingering indicated:

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

"With regard to the _actual execution_ of these harmonics, I advise all
students to try and play them with every bit as much expressive feeling
as ordinary notes. My experience has been that pupils do not pay nearly
enough attention to the intonation of harmonics. In other words, they
try to produce the harmonics _immediately_, instead of first making sure
that both fingers are on the right spot before they loosen one finger on
the string. For instance in the following: [Illustration: Musical
Notation] first play [Illustration: Musical Notation] and then
[Illustration: Musical Notation] then loosen the fourth finger, and play
[Illustration: Musical Notation]

"The same principle holds good when playing double harmonics. Nine
tenths of the 'squeaking' heard when harmonics are played is due to the
fact that the finger-placing is not properly prepared, and that the
fingers are not on the right spot.

"Never, when playing a harmonic with an up-bow [Symbol: up-bow], at the
point, smash down the bow on the string; but have it already _on_ the
string _before_ playing the harmonic. The process is reversed when
playing a down-bow [Symbol: down-bow] harmonic. When beginning a
harmonic at the frog, have the harmonic ready, then let the bow _drop_
gently on the string.

"Triple and quadruple harmonics may be combined in exactly the same way.
Students should never get the idea that you press down the string as you
press a button and--presto--the magic harmonics appear! They are a
simple and natural result of the proper application of scientific
principles; and the sooner the student learns to form and combine
harmonics himself instead of learning them by rote, the better will he
play them. Too often a student can give the fingering of certain double
harmonics and cannot use it. Of course, harmonics are only a detail of
the complete mastery of the violin; but mastery of all details leads to
mastery of the whole.

                             VIOLIN MASTERY

"And what is mastery of the whole? Mastery of the whole, real violin
mastery, I think, lies in the control of the interpretative problem, the
power to awaken emotion by the use of the instrument. Many feel more
than they can express, have more left hand than bow technic and, like
Kubelik, have not the perfected technic for which perfected playing
calls. The artist who feels beauty keenly and deeply and whose
mechanical equipment allows him to make others feel and share the beauty
he himself feels is in my opinion worthy of being called a master of the


                          ALEXANDER SASLAVSKY


Alexander Saslavsky is probably best known as a solo artist, as the
concertmaster of a great symphonic orchestra, as the leader of the
admirable quartet which bears his name. Yet, at the same time, few
violinists can speak with more authority anent the instructive phases of
their Art. Not only has he been active for years in the teaching field;
but as a pedagog he rounds out the traditions of Ferdinand David,
Massard, Auer, and Gruen (Vienna _Hochschule_), acquired during his
"study years," with the result of his own long and varied experience.

Beginning at the beginning, I asked Mr. Saslavsky to tell me something
about methods, his own in particular. "Method is a flexible term," he
answered. "What the word should mean is the cultivation of the pupil's
individuality along the lines best suited to it. Not that a guide which
may be employed to develop common-sense principles is not valuable. But
even here, the same guide (violin-method) will not answer for every
pupil. Personally I find De Beriot's 'Violin School' the most generally
useful, and for advanced students, Ferdinand David's second book. Then,
for scales--I insist on my pupils being able to play, a perfect scale
through three octaves--the Hrimaly book of scales. Many advanced
violinists cannot play a good scale simply because of a lack of
fundamental work.

"As soon as the pupil is able, he should take up Kreutzer and stick to
him as the devotee does to his Bible. Any one who can play the '42
Exercises' as they should be played may be called a well-balanced
violinist. There are too many purely mechanical exercises--and the
circumstance that we have Kreutzer, Rode, Fiorillo, Rovelli and Dont
emphasizes the fact. And there are too many elaborate and complicated
violin methods. Sevcik, for instance, has devised a purely mechanical
system of this kind, perfect from a purely mechanical standpoint, but
one whose consistent use, in my opinion, kills initiative and
individuality. I have had experience with Sevcik pupils in quartet
playing, and have found that they have no expression.


"After all, the teacher can only supply the pupil with the violinistic
equipment. The pupil must use it. There is tone, for instance. The
teacher cannot _make_ tone for the pupil--he can only show him how tone
can be made. Sometimes a purely physiological reason makes it almost
impossible for the pupil to produce a good natural tone. If the
finger-tips are not adequately equipped with 'cushions,' and a pupil
wishes to use the _vibrato_ there is nothing with which he can vibrate.
There is real meaning, speaking of the violinist's tone, in the phrase
'he has it at his fingers' tips.' Then there is the matter of _slow_
practice. It rests with the pupil to carry out the teacher's injunctions
in this respect. The average pupil practices too fast, is too eager to
develop his Art as a money maker. And too many really gifted students
take up orchestra playing, which no one can do continuously and hope to
be a solo player. Four hours of study work may be nullified by a single
hour of orchestra playing. Musically it is broadening, of course, but I
am speaking from the standpoint of the student who hopes to become a
solo artist. An opera orchestra is especially bad in this way. In the
symphonic _ensemble_ more care is used; but in the opera orchestra they
employ the _right_ arm for tremolo! There is a good deal of _camouflage_
as regards string playing in an opera orchestra, and much of the
music--notably Wagner's--is quite impracticable.

"And lessons are often made all too short. A teacher in common honesty
cannot really give a pupil much in half-an-hour--it is not a real
lesson. There is a good deal to be said for class teaching as it is
practiced at the European conservatories, especially as regards
interpretation. In my student days I learned much from listening to
others play the concertos they had prepared, and from noting the
teacher's corrections. And this even in a purely technical way: I can
recall Kubelik playing Paganini as a wonderful display of the
_technical_ points of violin playing.

                             A GREAT DEFECT

"Most pupils seem to lack an absolute sense of rhythm--a great defect.
Yet where latent it may be developed. Here Kreutzer is invaluable,
since he presents every form of rhythmic problem, scales in various
rhythms and bowings. Kreutzer's 'Exercise No. 2,' for example, may be
studied with any number of bowings. To produce a broad tone the bow must
move slowly, and in rapid passages should never seem to introduce
technical exercises in a concert number. The student should memorize
Kreutzer and Fiorillo. Flesch's _Urstudien_ offer the artist or
professional musician who has time for little practice excellent
material; but are not meant for the pupil, unless he be so far advanced
that he may be trusted to use them alone.

                           TONE: PRACTICE TIME

"Broad playing gives the singing tone--the true violin tone--a long bow
drawn its full length. Like every general rule though, this one must be
modified by the judgment of the individual player. Violin playing is an
art of many mysteries. Some pupils grasp a point at once; others have to
have it explained seven or eight different ways before grasping it. The
serious student should practice not less than four hours, preferably in
twenty minute intervals. After some twenty minutes the brain is apt to
tire. And since the fingers are controlled by the brain, it is best to
relax for a short time before going on. Mental and physical control must
always go hand in hand. Four hours of intelligent, consistent practice
work are far better than eight or ten of fatigued effort.

                         A NATIONAL CONSERVATORY

"Some five years ago too many teachers gave their pupils the Mendelssohn
and Paganini concertos to play before they knew their Kreutzer. But
there has been a change for the better during recent years. Kneisel was
one of the first to produce pupils here who played legitimately,
according to standard violinistic ideals. One reason why Auer has had
such brilliant pupils is that poor students were received at the
Petrograd Conservatory free of charge. All they had to supply was
talent; and I look forward to the time when we will have a National
conservatory in this country, supported by the Government. Then the
poor, but musically gifted, pupil will have the same opportunities that
his brother, who is well-to-do, now has.


"You ask me to tell you something of my own musical preferences. Well,
take the concertos. I have reached a point where the Mendelssohn,
Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Brahms concertos seen to sum up what is
truly worth while. The others begin to bore me; even Bruch! Paganini,
Wieniawski, etc., are mainly mediums of display. Most of the great
violinists, Ysaye, Thibaud, etc., during recent years are reverting to
the violin sonatas. Ysaye, for instance, has recently been playing the
Lazzari sonata, a very powerful and beautiful work.

"My experiences as a 'concertmaster'? I have played with Weingartner;
Saint-Saens (whose amiability to me, when he first visited this country,
I recall with pleasure); Gustav Mahler, Tschaikovsky, Safonoff, Seidel,
Bauer, and Walter Damrosch, whose friend and associate I have been for
the last twenty-two years. He is a wonderful man, many-sided and
versatile; a notably fine pianist; and playing chamber music with him
during successive summers is numbered among my pleasantest

"In speaking of concertos some time ago, I forgot to mention one work
well worth studying. This is the Russian Mlynarski's concerto in D,
which I played with the Russian Symphony Orchestra some eight years ago
for the first time in this country, as well as a fine 'Romance and
Caprice' by Rubinstein.

"Is the music a concertmaster is called upon to play always violinistic?
Far from it. Symphonic music--in as much as the concertmaster is
concerned, is usually not idiomatic violin music. Richard Strauss's
violin concerto can really be played by the violinist. The _obbligatos_
in his symphonies are a very different matter; they go beyond accepted
technical boundaries. With Stravinsky it is the same. The violin
_obbligato_ in Rimsky-Korsakov's _Scheherazade_, though, is real violin
music. Debussy and Ravel are most subtle; they call for a particularly
good ear, since the harmonic balance of their music is very delicate.
The concertmaster has to develop his own interpretations, subject, of
course, to the conductor's ideas.

                           VIOLIN MASTERY

"Violin Mastery? It means to me complete control of the fingerboard, a
being at home in every position, absolute sureness of fingering,
absolute equality of tone under all circumstances. I remember Ysaye
playing Tschaikovsky's _Serenade Melancolique_, and using a fingering
for certain passages which I liked very much. I asked him to give it to
me in detail, but he merely laughed and said: 'I'd like to, but I
cannot, because I really do not remember which fingers I used!' That is
mastery--a control so complete that fingering was unconscious, and the
interpretation of the thought was all that was in the artist's mind!
Sevcik's 'complete technical mastery' is after all not perfect, since it
represents mechanical and not mental control."


                              TOSCHA SEIDEL

                              HOW TO STUDY

Toscha Seidel, though one of the more recent of the young Russian
violinists who represent the fruition of Professor Auer's formative
gifts, has, to quote H.F. Peyser, "the transcendental technic observed
in the greatest pupils of his master, a command of mechanism which makes
the rough places so plain that the traces of their roughness are hidden
to the unpracticed eye." He commenced to study the violin seriously at
the age of seven in Odessa, his natal town, with Max Fiedemann, an Auer
pupil. A year and a half later Alexander Fiedemann heard him play a De
Beriot concerto in public, and induced him to study at the Stern
Conservatory in Berlin, with Brodsky, a pupil of Joachim, with whom he
remained for two years.

It was in Berlin that the young violinist reached the turning point of
his career. "I was a boy of twelve," he said, "when I heard Jascha
Heifetz play for the first time. He played the Tschaikovsky concerto,
and he played it wonderfully. His bowing, his fingering, his whole style
and manner of playing so greatly impressed me that I felt I _must_ have
his teacher, that I would never be content unless I studied with
Professor Auer! In 1912 I at length had an opportunity to play for the
Professor in his home at Loschivitz, in Dresden, and to my great joy he
at once accepted me as a pupil.

                      STUDYING WITH PROFESSOR AUER

"Studying with Professor Auer was a revelation. I had private lessons
from him, and at the same time attended the classes at the Petrograd
Conservatory. I should say that his great specialty, if one can use the
word specialty in the case of so universal a master of teaching as the
Professor, was bowing. In all violin playing the left hand, the finger
hand, might be compared to a perfectly adjusted technical machine, one
that needs to be kept well oiled to function properly. The right hand,
the bow hand, is the direct opposite--it is the painter hand, the artist
hand, its phrasing outlines the pictures of music; its _nuances_ fill
them with beauty of color. And while the Professor insisted as a matter
of course on the absolute development of finger mechanics, he was an
inspiration as regards the right manipulation of the bow, and its use as
a medium of interpretation. And he made his pupils think. Often, when I
played a passage in a concerto or sonata and it lacked clearness, he
would ask me: 'Why is this passage not clear?' Sometimes I knew and
sometimes I did not. But not until he was satisfied that I could not
myself answer the question, would he show me how to answer it. He could
make every least detail clear, illustrating it on his own violin; but if
the pupil could 'work out his own salvation' he always encouraged him to
do so.

          [Illustration: TOSCHA SEIDEL, with hand-written note]

"Most teachers make bowing a very complicated affair, adding to its
difficulties. But Professor Auer develops a _natural_ bowing, with an
absolutely free wrist, in all his pupils; for he teaches each student
along the line of his individual aptitudes. Hence the length of the
fingers and the size of the hand make no difference, because in the case
of each pupil they are treated as separate problems, capable of an
individual solution. I have known of pupils who came to him with an
absolutely stiff wrist; and yet he taught them to overcome it.


"As regards difficulties, technical and other, a distinction might be
made between the artist and the average amateur. The latter does not
make the violin his life work: it is an incidental. While he may
reasonably content himself with playing well, the artist-pupil _must_
achieve perfection. It is the difference between an accomplishment and
an art. The amateur plays more or less for the sake of playing--the
'how' is secondary; but for the artist the 'how' comes first, and for
him the shortest piece, a single scale, has difficulties of which the
amateur is quite ignorant. And everything is difficult in its perfected
sense. What I, as a student, found to be most difficult were double
harmonics--I still consider them to be the most difficult thing in the
whole range of violin technic. First of all, they call for a large hand,
because of the wide stretches. But harmonics were one of the things I
had to master before Professor Auer would allow me to appear in public.
Some find tenths and octaves their stumbling block, but I cannot say
that they ever gave me much trouble. After all, the main thing with any
difficulty is to surmount it, and just _how_ is really a secondary
matter. I know Professor Auer used to say: 'Play with your feet if you
must, but make the violin sound!' With tenths, octaves, sixths, with any
technical frills, the main thing is to bring them out clearly and
convincingly. And, rightly or wrongly, one must remember that when
something does not sound out convincingly on the violin, it is not the
fault of the weather, or the strings or rosin or anything else--it is
always the artist's own fault!

                             HOW TO STUDY

"Scale study--all Auer pupils had to practice scales every day, scales
in all the intervals--is a most important thing. And following his idea
of stimulating the pupil's self-development, the Professor encouraged us
to find what we needed ourselves. I remember that once--we were standing
in a corridor of the Conservatory--when I asked him, 'What should I
practice in the way of studies?' he answered: 'Take the difficult
passages from the great concertos. You cannot improve on them, for they
are as good, if not better, as any studies written.' As regards
technical work we were also encouraged to think out our own exercises.
And this I still do. When I feel that my thirds and sixths need
attention I practice scales and original figurations in these intervals.
But genuine, resultful practice is something that should never be
counted by 'hours.' Sometimes I do not touch my violin all day long; and
one hour with head work is worth any number of days without it. At the
most I never practice more than three hours a day. And when my thoughts
are fixed on other things it would be time lost to try to practice
seriously. Without technical control a violinist could not be a great
artist; for he could not express himself. Yet a great artist can give
even a technical study, say a Rode _etude_, a quality all its own in
playing it. That technic, however, is a means, not an end, Professor
Auer never allowed his pupils to forget. He is a wonderful master of
interpretation. I studied the great concertos with him--Beethoven,
Bruch, Mendelssohn, Tschaikovsky, Dvorak*, the Brahms concerto (which I
prefer to any other); the Vieuxtemps Fifth and Lalo (both of which I
have heard Ysaye, that supreme artist who possesses all that an artist
should have, play in Berlin); the Elgar concerto (a fine work which I
once heard Kreisler, an artist as great as he is modest, play
wonderfully in Petrograd), as well as other concertos of the standard
repertory. And Professor Auer always sought to have us play as
individuals; and while he never allowed us to overstep the boundaries of
the musically esthetic, he gave our individuality free play within its
limits. He never insisted on a pupil accepting his own _nuances_ of
interpretation because they were his. I know that when playing for him,
if I came to a passage which demanded an especially beautiful _legato_
rendering, he would say: 'Now show how you can sing!' The exquisite
_legato_ he taught was all a matter of perfect bowing, and as he often
said: 'There must be no such thing as strings or hair in the pupil's
consciousness. One must not play violin, one must sing violin!'

    *Transcriber's note: Original text read "Dvorak".

                           FIDDLE AND STRINGS

"I do not see how any artist can use an instrument which is quite new to
him in concert. I never play any but my own Guadagnini, which is a fine
fiddle, with a big, sonorous tone. As to wire strings, I hate them! In
the first place, a wire E sounds distinctly different to the artist
than does a gut E. And it is a difference which any violinist will
notice. Then, too, the wire E is so thin that the fingers have nothing
to take hold of, to touch firmly. And to me the metallic vibrations,
especially on the open strings, are most disagreeable. Of course, from a
purely practical standpoint there is much to be said for the wire E.

                            VIOLIN MASTERY

"What is violin mastery as I understand it? First of all it means
talent, secondly technic, and in the third place, tone. And then one
must be musical in an all-embracing sense to attain it. One must have
musical breadth and understanding in general, and not only in a narrowly
violinistic sense. And, finally, the good God must give the artist who
aspires to be a master good hands, and direct him to a good teacher!"


                              EDMUND SEVERN

                      THE JOACHIM BOWING AND OTHERS:
                              THE LEFT HAND

Edmund Severn's activity in the field of violin music is a three-fold
one: he is a composer, an interpreting artist and a teacher, and his
fortuitous control of the three vital phases of his Art make his views
as regards its study of very real value. The lover of string music in
general would naturally attach more importance to his string quartet in
D major, his trio for violin, 'cello and piano, his violin concerto in D
minor, the sonata, the "Oriental," "Italian," "New England" suites for
violin, and the fine suite in A major, for two violins and piano, than
to his symphonic poems for orchestra, his choral works and his songs.
And those in search of hints to aid them to master the violin would be
most interested in having the benefit of his opinions as a teacher,
founded on long experience and keen observation. Since Mr. Severn is
one of those teachers who are born, not made, and is interested heart
and soul in this phase of his musical work, it was not difficult to draw
him out.

                          THE JOACHIM BOWING

"My first instructor in the violin was my father, the pioneer violin
teacher of Hartford, Conn., where my boyhood was passed, and then I
studied with Franz Milcke and Bernard Listemann, concertmaster of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra. But one day I happened to read a few lines
reprinted in the _Metronome_ from some European source, which quoted
Wilhelmj as saying that Emanuel Wirth, Joachim's first assistant at the
Berlin _Hochschule_, 'was the best teacher of his generation.' This was
enough for me: feeling that the best could be none too good, I made up
my mind to go to him. And I did. Wirth was the viola of the Joachim
Quartet, and probably a better teacher than was Joachim himself. Violin
teaching was a cult with him, a religion; and I think he believed God
had sent him to earth to teach fiddle. Like all the teachers at the
_Hochschule_ he taught the regular 'Joachim' bowing--they were obliged
to teach it--as far as it could be taught, for it could not be taught
every one. And that is the real trouble with the 'Joachim' bowing. It is
impossible to make a general application of it.

"Joachim had a very long arm and when he played at the point of the bow
his arm position was approximately the same as that of the average
player at the middle of the bow. Willy Hess was a perfect exponent of
the Joachim method of bowing. Why? Because he had a very long arm. But
at the _Hochschule_ the Joachim bowing was compulsory: they taught, or
tried to teach, all who came there to use it without exception; boys or
girls whose arms chanced to be long enough could acquire it, but big men
with short arms had no chance whatever. Having a medium long arm, by
dint of hard work I managed to get my bowing to suit Wirth; yet I always
felt at a disadvantage at the point of the bow, in spite of the fact
that after my return to the United States I taught the Joachim bowing
for fully eight years.

"Then, when he first came here, I heard and saw Ysaye play, and I
noticed how greatly his bowing differed from that of Joachim, the point
being that his first finger was always in a position to press
_naturally_ without the least stiffness. This led me to try to find a
less constrained bowing for myself, working along perfectly natural
lines. The Joachim bowing demands a high wrist; but in the case of the
Belgian school an easy position at the point is assumed naturally. And
it is not hard to understand that if the bow be drawn parallel with the
bridge, allowing for the least possible movement of hands and wrist, the
greatest economy of motion, there is no contravention of the laws of
nature and playing is natural and unconstrained.

"And this applies to every student of the instrument, whether or no he
has a long arm. While I was studying in Berlin, Sarasate played there in
public, with the most natural and unhampered grace and freedom in the
use of his bow. Yet the entire _Hochschule_ contingent unanimously
condemned his bowing as being 'stiff'--merely because it did not conform
to the Joachim tradition. Of course, there is no question but that
Joachim was the greatest quartet player of his time; and with regard to
the interpretation of the classics he was not to be excelled. His
conception of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms was wonderful. The
insistence at the _Hochschule_ on forcing the bowing which was natural
to him on all others, irrespective of physical adaptability, is a matter
of regret. Wirth was somewhat deficient in teaching left hand technic,
as compared with, let us say, Schradieck. Wirth's real strength lay in
his sincerity and his ability to make clear the musical contents of the
works of the great masters. In a Beethoven or Spohr concerto he made a
pupil give its due emphasis to every single note.

                        A PRE-TEACHING REQUISITE

"Before the violin student can even begin to study, there are certain
pre-teaching requisites which are necessary if the teacher is to be of
any service to him. The violin is a singing instrument, and therefore
the first thing called for is a good singing tone. That brings up an
important point--the proper adjustment of the instrument used by the
student. If his lessons are to be of real benefit to him, the component
parts of the instrument, post, bridge, bass-bar, strings, etc., must be
accurately adjusted, in order that the sound values are what they should

"From the teaching standpoint it is far more important that whatever
violin the student has is one properly built and adjusted, than that it
be a fine instrument. And the bow must have the right amount of spring,
of elasticity in its stick. A poor bow will work more harm than a poor
fiddle, for if the bow is poor, if it lacks the right resilience, the
student cannot acquire the correct bow pressure. He cannot play
_spiccato_ or any of the 'bouncing' bowings, including various forms of
arpeggios, with a poor stick.

                            DRAWING A LONG BOW

"When I say that the student should 'draw a long bow,'" continued Mr.
Severn with a smile, "I do not say so at a venture. If his instrument
and bow are in proper shape, this is the next thing for the student to
do. Ever since Tartini's time it has been acknowledged that nothing can
take the place of the study of the long bow, playing in all shades of
dynamics, from _pp_ to _ff_, and with all the inflections of _crescendo_
and _diminuendo_. Part of this study should consist of 'mute'
exercises--not playing, but drawing the bow _above the strings_, to its
full length, resting at either end. This ensures bow control. One great
difficulty is that as a rule the teacher cannot induce pupils to
practice these 'mute' exercises, in spite of their unquestionable value.
All the great masters of the violin have used them. Viotti thought so
highly of them that he taught them only to his favorite pupils. And even
to-day some distinguished violinists play dumb exercises before stepping
on the recital stage. They are one of the best means that we have for
control of the violinistic nervous system.


"Wrist-bowing is one of the bowings in which the student should learn to
feel absolutely and naturally at home. To my thinking the German way of
teaching wrist-bowing is altogether wrong. Their idea is to keep the
fingers neutral, and let the stick move the fingers! Yet this is
wrong--for the player holds his bow at the finger-tips, that terminal
point of the fingers where the tactile nerves are most highly developed,
and where their direct contact with the bow makes possible the greatest
variety of dynamic effect, and also allows the development of far
greater speed in short bowings.

"Though the Germans say 'Think of the wrist!' I think with the Belgians:
Put your mind where you touch and hold the bow, concentrate on your
fingers. In other words, when you make your bow change, do not make it
according to the Joachim method, with the wrist, but in the natural way,
with the fingers always in command. In this manner only will you get the
true wrist motion.

                        STACCATO AND OTHER BOWINGS

"After all, there are only two general principles in violin playing, the
long and short bow, _legato_ and _staccato_. Many a teacher finds it
very difficult to teach _staccato_ correctly, which may account for the
fact that many pupils find it hard to learn. The main reason is that, in
a sense, _staccato_ is opposed to the nature of the violin as a singing
instrument. To produce a true _staccato_ and not a 'scratchato' it is
absolutely necessary, while exerting the proper pressure and movement,
to keep the muscles loose. I have evolved a simple method for quickly
achieving the desired result in _staccato_. First I teach the attack in
the middle of the bow, without drawing the bow and as though pressing a
button: I have pupils press up with the thumb and down with the first
finger, with all muscles relaxed. This, when done correctly, produces a
sudden sharp attack.

"Then, I have the pupil place his bow in the middle, in position to draw
a down-stroke from the wrist, the bow-hair being pressed and held
against the string. A quick down-bow follows with an immediate release
of the string. Repeating the process, use the up-stroke. The finished
product is merely the combination of these two exercises--drawing and
attacking simultaneously. I have never failed to give a pupil a good
_staccato_ by this exercise, which comprises the principle of all
genuine _staccato_ playing.

"One of the most difficult of all bowings is the simple up-and-down
stroke used in the second Kreutzer _etude_, that is to say, the bowing
between the middle and point of the bow, _tete d'archet_, as the French
call it. This bowing is played badly on the violin more often than any
other. It demands constant rapid changing and, as most pupils play it,
the _legato_ quality is noticeably absent. Too much emphasis cannot be
laid on the truth that the 'singing stroke' should be employed for all
bowings, long or short. Often pupils who play quite well show a want of
true _legato_ quality in their tone, because there is no connection
between their bowing in rapid work.

"Individual bowings should always be practiced separately. I always
oblige my pupils to practice all bowings on the open strings, and in all
combinations of the open strings, because this allows them to
concentrate on the bowing itself, to the exclusion of all else; and they
advance far more quickly. Students should never be compelled to learn
new bowings while they have to think of their fingers at the same time:
we cannot serve two masters simultaneously! All in all, bowing is most
important in violin technic, for control of the bow means much toward
mastery of the violin.

                              THE LEFT HAND

"It is evident, however, that the correct use of the left hand is of
equal importance. It seems not to be generally known that
finger-pressure has much to do with tone-quality. The correct poise of
the left hand, as conspicuously shown by Heifetz for instance, throws
the extreme tips of the fingers hammerlike on the strings, and renders
full pressure of the string easy. Correctly done, a brilliance results,
especially in scale and passage work, which can be acquired in no other
manner, each note partaking somewhat of the quality of the open string.
As for intonation--that is largely a question of listening. To really
listen to oneself is as necessary as it is rare. It would take a volume
to cover that subject alone. We hear much about the use of the _vibrato_
these days. It was not so when I was a student. I can remember when it
was laughed at by the purists as an Italian evidence of bad taste. My
teachers decried it, yet if we could hear the great players of the past,
we would be astonished at their frugal use of it.

"One should remember in this connection that there was a conflict among
singers for many years as to whether the straight tone as cultivated by
the English oratorio singers, or the vibrated tone of the Italians were
correct. As usual, Nature won out. The correctly vibrated voice
outlasted the other form of production, thus proving its lawful basis.
But to-day the _vibrato_ is frequently made to cover a multitude of
violin sins.

"It is accepted by many as a substitute for genuine warmth and it is
used as a _camouflage_ to 'put over' some very bad art in the shape of
poor tone-quality, intonation and general sloppiness of technic. Why,
then, has it come into general use during the last twenty-five years?
Simply because it is based on the correctly produced human voice. The
old players, especially those of the German school, said, and some still
say, the _vibrato_ should only be used at the climax of a melody. If we
listen to a Sembrich or a Bonci, however, we hear a vibration on every
tone. Let us not forget that the violin is a singing instrument and that
even Joachim said: 'We must imitate the human voice,' This, I think,
disposes of the case finally and we must admit that every little boy or
girl with a natural _vibrato_ is more correct in that part of his
tone-production than many of the great masters of the past. As the Negro
pastor said: 'The world do move!'

                              VIOLIN MASTERY

"Are 'mastery of the violin' and 'Violin Mastery' synonymous in my mind?
Yes and no: 'Violin Mastery' may be taken to mean that technical mastery
wherewith one is enabled to perform any work in the entire literature of
the instrument with precision, but not necessarily with feeling for its
beauty or its emotional content. In this sense, in these days of
improved violin pedagogy, such mastery is not uncommon. But 'Violin
Mastery' may also be understood to mean, not merely a cold though
flawless technic, but its living, glowing product when used to express
the emotions suggested by the music of the masters. This latter kind of
violin mastery is rare indeed.

"One who makes technic an end travels light, and should reach his
destination more quickly. But he whose goal is music with its
thousand-hued beauties, with its call for the exertion of human and
spiritual emotion, sets forth on a journey without end. It is plain,
however, that this is the only journey worth taking with the violin as a
traveling companion. 'Violin Mastery', then, means to me technical
proficiency used to the highest extent possible, for artistic ends!"


                             ALBERT SPALDING

                         DEVELOPMENT OF AN ARTIST

For the duration of the war Albert Spalding the violinist became Albert
Spalding the soldier. As First Lieutenant in the Aviation Service,
U.S.A., he maintained the ideals of civilization on the Italian front
with the same devotion he gave to those of Art in the piping times of
peace. As he himself said not so very long ago: "You cannot do two
things, and do them properly, at the same time. At the present moment
there is more music for me in the factories gloriously grinding out
planes and motors than in a symphony of Beethoven. And to-day I would
rather run on an office-boy's errand for my country and do it as well as
I can, if it's to serve my country, than to play successfully a Bach
Chaconne; and I would rather hear a well directed battery of American
guns blasting the Road of Peace and Victorious Liberty than the
combined applause of ten thousand audiences. For it is my conviction
that Art has as much at stake in this War as Democracy."

    [Illustration: _Copyright by Matzene, Chicago_. ALBERT SPALDING]

Yet Lieutenant Spalding, despite the arduous demands of his patriotic
duties, found time to answer some questions of the writer in the
interests of "Violin Mastery" which, representing the views and opinions
of so eminent and distinctively American a violinist, cannot fail to
interest every lover of the Art. Writing from Rome (Sept. 9, 1918),
Lieutenant Spalding modestly said that his answers to the questions
asked "will have to be simple and short, because my time is very
limited, and then, too, having been out of music for more than a year, I
feel it difficult to deal in more than a general way with some of the
questions asked."

                             VIOLIN MASTERY

"As to 'Violin Mastery'? To me it means effortless mastery of details;
the correlating of them into a perfect whole; the subjecting of them to
the expression of an architecture which is music. 'Violin Mastery' means
technical mastery in every sense of the word. It means a facility which
will enable the interpreter to forget difficulties, and to express at
once in a language that will seem clear, simple and eloquent, that which
in the hands of others appears difficult, obtuse and dull.

                         DEVELOPMENT OF AN ARTIST

"As to the processes, mental and technical, which make an artist? These
different processes, mental and technical, are too many, too varied and
involved to invite an answer in a short space of time. Suffice it to say
that the most _important_ mental process, to my mind, is the development
of a perception of beauty. All the perseverance in the study of music,
all the application devoted to it, is not worth a tinker's dam, unless
accompanied by this awakening to the perception of beauty. And with
regard to the influence of teachers? Since all teachers vary greatly,
the student should not limit himself to his own personal masters. The
true student of Art should be able to derive benefit and instruction
from every beautiful work of Art that he hears or sees; otherwise he
will be limited by the technical and mental limitations of his own
prejudices and jealousies. One's greatest difficulties may turn out to
be one's greatest aids in striving toward artistic results. By this I
mean that nothing is more fatally pernicious for the true artist than
the precocious facility which invites cheap success. Therefore I make
the statement that one's greatest difficulties are one's greatest


"In the technical field, the phase of violin technic which is less
developed, it seems to me is, in most cases, bowing. One often notes a
highly developed left hand technic coupled with a monotonous and
oftentimes faulty bowing. The _color_ and _variety_ of a violinist's art
must come largely from his intimate acquaintance with all that can be
accomplished by the bow arm. The break or change from a down-bow to an
up-bow, or _vice versa_, should be under such control as to make it
perceptible only when it may be desirable to use it for color or

                    GOOD AND BAD HANDS: MENTAL STUDY

"The influence of the physical conformation of bow hand and string hand
on actual playing? There are no 'good' or 'bad' bow hands or string
hands (unless they be deformed); there are only 'good' and 'bad' heads.
By this I mean that the finest development of technic comes from the
head, not from the hand. Quickness of thought and action is what
distinguishes the easy player from the clumsy player. Students should
develop mental study even of technical details--this, of course, in
addition to the physical practice; for this mental study is of the
highest importance in developing the student so that he can gain that
effortless mastery of detail of which I have already spoken.

                        ATTENDANCE FOR THE STUDENT

"Concerts undoubtedly have great value in developing the student
technically and mentally; but too often they have a directly contrary
effect. I think there is a very doubtful benefit to be derived from the
present habit, as illustrated in New York, London, or other centers, of
the student attending concerts, sometimes as many as two or three a day.
This habit dwarfs the development of real appreciation, as the student,
under these conditions, can little appreciate true works of art when he
has crammed his head so full of truck, and worn out his faculties of
concentration until listening to music becomes a mechanical mental
process. The _indiscriminate_ attending of concerts, to my mind, has an
absolutely pernicious effect on the student.


"Nationality and national feeling have a very real influence in the
development of an artist; but this influence is felt subconsciously more
than consciously, and it reacts more on the creative than on the
interpretative artist. By this I mean that the interpretative artist,
while reserving the right to his individual expression, should subject
himself to what he considers to have been the artistic impulse, the
artistic intentions of the composer. As to type music to whose appeal I
as an American am susceptible, I confess to a very sympathetic reaction
to the syncopated rhythms known as 'rag-time,' and which appear to be
especially American in character." For the benefit of those readers who
may not chance to know it, Lieutenant Spalding's "Alabama," a Southern
melody and dance in plantation style, for violin and piano, represents
a very delightful creative exploitation of these rhythms. The writer
makes mention of the fact since with regard to this and other of his own
compositions Lieutenant Spalding would only state: "I felt that I had
something to say and, therefore, tried to say it. Whether what I have to
say is of any interest to others is not for me to judge.

                         PLAYING WHILE IN SERVICE

"Do I play at all while in Service? I gave up all playing in public when
entering the Army a year ago, and to a great extent all private playing
as well. I have on one or two occasions played at charity concerts
during the past year, once in Rome, and once in the little town in Italy
near the aviation camp at which I was stationed at the time. I have
purposely refused all other requests to play because one cannot do two
things at once, and do them properly. My time now belongs to my country:
When we have peace again I shall hope once more to devote it to Art."


                           THEODORE SPIERING

                         THE STUDY OF KREUTZER

A. Walter Kramer has said: "Mr. Spiering knows how serious a study can
be made of the violin, because he has made it. He has investigated the
'how' and 'why' of every detail, and what he has to say about the violin
is the utterance of a big musician, one who has mastered the
instrument." And Theodore Spiering, solo artist and conductor, as a
teacher has that wider horizon which has justified the statement made
that "he is animated by the thoughts and ideals which stimulate a
Godowsky or Busoni." Such being the case, it was with unmixed
satisfaction that the writer found Mr. Spiering willing to give him the
benefit of some of those constructive ideas of his as regards violin
study which have established his reputation so prominently in that

                          TWO TYPES OF STUDENTS

"There are certain underlying principles which govern every detail of
the violinist's Art," said Mr. Spiering, "and unless the violinist fully
appreciates their significance, and has the intelligence and patience to
apply them in everything he does, he will never achieve that absolute
command over his instrument which mastery implies.

"It is a peculiar fact that a large percentage of students--probably
believing that they can reach their goal by a short cut--resent the
mental effort required to master these principles, the passive
resistance, evident in their work, preventing them from deriving true
benefit from their studies. They form that large class which learns
merely by imitation, and invariably retrograde the moment they are no
longer under the teacher's supervision.

"The smaller group, with an analytical bent of mind, largely subject
themselves to the needed mental drill and thus provide for themselves
that inestimable basic quality that makes them independent and capable
of developing their talent to its full fruition.

       [Illustration: THEODORE SPIERING, with hand-written note]


"The conventional manner of teaching provided an inordinate number of
mechanical exercises in order to overcome so called 'technical
difficulties.' Only the _prima facie_ disturbance, however, was thus
taken into consideration--not its actual cause. The result was, that
notwithstanding the great amount of labor thus expended, the effort had
to be repeated each time the problem was confronted. Aside from the
obviously uncertain results secured in this manner, it meant deadening
of the imagination and cramping of interpretative possibilities. It is
only possible to reduce to a minimum the element of chance by
scrupulously carrying out the dictates of the laws governing vital
principles. Analysis and the severest self-criticism are the means of
determination as to whether theory and practice conform with one

"_Mental preparedness_ (Marcus Aurelius calls it 'the good ordering of
the mind') is the keynote of technical control. Together with the
principle of _relaxation_ it provides the player with the most effective
means of establishing precise and sensitive cooeperation between mental
and physical processes. Muscular relaxation at will is one of the
results of this cooeperation. It makes sustained effort possible
(counteracting the contraction ordinarily resulting therefrom), and it
is freedom of movement more than anything else that tends to establish


"The study period of the average American is limited. It has been
growing less year by year. Hence the teacher has had to redouble his
efforts. The desire to give my pupils the essentials of technical
control in their most concentrated and immediately applicable form, have
led me to evolve a series of 'bow exercises,' which, however, do not
merely pursue a mechanical purpose. Primarily enforcing the carrying out
of basic principles as pertaining to the bow--and establishing or
correcting (as the case may be) arm and hand (right arm) positions, they
supply the means of creating a larger interpretative style.

"I use the Kreutzer studies as the medium of these bow-exercises, since
the application of new technical ideas is easier when the music itself
is familiar to the student. I have a two-fold object in mind when I
review these studies in my particular manner, technic and appreciation.
I might add that not only Kreutzer, but Fiorillo and Rode--in fact all
the celebrated 'Caprices,' with the possible exception of those of
Paganini--are viewed almost entirely from the purely technical side, as
belonging to the classroom, because their musical qualities have not
been sufficiently pointed out. Rode, in particular, is a veritable
musical treasure trove.

                            STUDY OF KREUTZER

"How do I use the Kreutzer studies to develop style and technic? By
making the student study them in such wise that the following principles
are emphasized in his work: _control before action_ (mental direction at
all times); _relaxation_; and _observance of string levels_; for
unimpeded movement is more important than pressure as regards the
carrying tone. These principles are among the most important pertaining
to right arm technic.

"In Study No. 2 (version 1, up-strokes only, version 2, down-strokes
only), I have my pupils use the full arm stroke (_grand detache_). In
version 1, the bow is taken from the string after completion of
stroke--but in such a way that the vibrations of the string are not
interfered with. Complete relaxation is insured by release of the
thumb--the bow being caught in a casual manner, third and fourth fingers
slipping from their normal position on stick--and holding, but not
tightly clasping, the bow.

"Version 2 calls for a _return down-stroke_, the return part of the
stroke being accomplished over the string, but making no division in
stroke, no hesitating before the return. Relaxation is secured as
before. Rapidity of stroke, elimination of impediment (faulty hand or
arm position and unnecessary upper arm action), is the aim of this
exercise. The pause between each stroke--caused by relinquishing the
hold on the bow--reminds the student that mental control should at all
times be paramount: that analysis of technical detail is of vital

"In Study No. 7 I employ the same vigorous full arm strokes as in No. 2:
the up and down bows as indicated in the original version. The bow is
raised from the strings after each note, by means of hand (little
finger, first and thumb) not by arm action. Normal hand position is
retained: thumb not released.

"The _observance of string levels_ is very essential. While the stroke
is in progress the arm must not leave its level in an anticipatory
movement to reach the next level. Especially after the down-stroke is it
advisable to verify the arm position with regard to this feature.

"No. 8 affords opportunity for a _resume_ of the work done in Nos. 2 and

                    [Illustration: Musical Notation]

"It is evident that the tempo of this study must be very much reduced in
speed. The _return_ down-stroke as in No. 2: the _second_ down-stroke as
in No. 7: the up-strokes as in No. 2.

"In Study No. 5 I use the hand-stroke only--at the frog--arm absolutely
immobile, with no attempt at tone. This exercise represents the first
attempt at dissecting the _martele_ idea: precise timing of pressure,
movement (stroke), and relaxation. The pause between the strokes is
utilized to learn the value of left hand preparedness, with the fingers
in place before bow action.

"In Study No. 13 I develop the principles of string crossing, of the
extension stroke, and articulation. String crossing is the main feature
of the exercise. I employ three versions, in order to accomplish my aim.
In version 1 I consider only the crossing from a higher to a lower

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

version 2:

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

version 3 is the original version. In versions 1 and 2 I omit all

                   [Illustration: Musical Notation]

Articulation is one of the main points at issue--the middle note is
generally inarticulate. For further string crossing analysis I use
Kreutzer's No. 25. Study No. 10 I carry out as a _martele_ study, with
the string crossing very much in evidence; establishing observance of
the notes occurring on the same string level, consequently compelling a
more judicious use of the so-called wrist movement (not merely
developing a supple wrist, with indefinite crossing movements, which in
many cases are applied by the player without regard to actual string
crossing) and in consequence securing stability of bow on string when
string level is not changed, this result being secured even in rapid
passage work.

"In Studies 11, 19 and 21 I cover shifting and left thumb action: in No.
9, finger action--flexibility and evenness, the left thumb relaxed--the
fundamental idea of the trill. After the _interrupted_ types of bowing
(grand _detache_, _martele_, _staccato_) have been carefully studied,
the _continuous_ types (_detache_, _legato_ and _spiccato_) are then
taken up, and in part the same studies again used: 2, 7, 8. Lastly the
slurred _legato_ comes under consideration (Studies 9, 11, 14, 22, 27,
29). Shifting, extension and string crossing have all been previously
considered, and hence the _legato_ should be allowed to take its even

"Although I do, temporarily, place these studies on a purely mechanical
level, I am convinced that they thus serve to call into being a broader
_musical_ appreciation for the whole set. For I have found that in spite
of the fact that pupils who come to me have all played their Kreutzer,
with very few exceptions have they realized the musical message which
it contains. The time when the student body will have learned to depict
successfully musical character--even in studies and caprices--will mark
the fulfillment of the teacher's task with regard to the cultivation of
the right arm--which is essentially the teacher's domain.


"It may interest you to know," Mr. Spiering said in reply to a question,
"that I began my teaching career in Chicago immediately following my
four years with Joachim in Berlin. It was natural that I should first
commit myself to the pedagogic methods of the _Hochschule_, which to a
great extent, however, I discarded as my own views crystallized. I found
that too much emphasis allotted the wrist stroke (a misnomer, by the
way), was bound to result in too academic a style. By transferring
primary importance to the control of the full arm-stroke--with the
hand-stroke incidentally completing the control--I felt that I was
better able to reflect the larger interpretative ideals which my years
of musical development were creating for me. Chamber music--a youthful
passion--led me to interest myself in symphonic work and conducting.
These activities not only reacted favorably on my solo playing, but
influenced my development as regards the broader, more dramatic style,
the grand manner in interpretation. It is this realization that places
me in a position to earnestly advise the ambitious student not to
disregard the great artistic benefits to be derived from the cultivation
of chamber music and symphonic playing.

"I might call my teaching ideals a combination of those of the
Franco-Belgian and German schools. To the former I attribute my
preference for the large sweep of the bow-arm, its style and tonal
superiority; to the latter, vigor of interpretation and attention to
musical detail.

                             VIOLIN MASTERY

"How do I define 'Violin Mastery'? The violinist who has succeeded in
eliminating all superfluous tension or physical resistance, whose mental
control is such that the technic of the left hand and right arm has
become coordinate, thus forming a perfect mechanism not working at
cross-purposes; who, furthermore, is so well poised that he never
oversteps the boundaries of good taste in his interpretations, though
vitally alive to the human element; who, finally, has so broad an
outlook on life and Art that he is able to reveal the transcendent
spirit characterizing the works of the great masters--such a violinist
has truly attained mastery!"


                            JACQUES THIBAUD

                           THE IDEAL PROGRAM

Jacques Thibaud, whose gifts as an interpreting artist have brought him
so many friends and admirers in the United States, is the foremost
representative of the modern French school of violin-playing. And as
such he has held his own ever since, at the age of twenty, he resigned
his rank as concert-master of the Colonne orchestra, to dedicate his
talents exclusively to the concert stage. So great an authority as the
last edition of the Riemann _Musik-Lexicon_ cannot forbear, even in
1915, to emphasize his "technic, absolutely developed in its every
detail, and his fiery and poetic manner of interpretation."

But Mr. Thibaud does not see any great difference between the ideals of
_la grande ecole belge_, that of Vieuxtemps, De Beriot, Leonard, Massart
and Marsick, whose greatest present-day exponent is Eugene Ysaye, and
the French. Himself a pupil of Marsick, he inherited the French
traditions of Alard through his father, who was Alard's pupil and handed
them on to his son. "The two schools have married and are as one,"
declared Mr. Thibaud. "They may differ in the interpretation of music,
but to me they seem to have merged so far as their systems of finger
technic, bowing and tone production goes.


"You ask me what is most difficult in playing the violin? It is bowing.
Bowing makes up approximately eighty per cent. of the sum total of
violinistic difficulties. One reason for it is that many teachers with
excellent ideas on the subject present it to their pupils in too
complicated a manner. The bow must be used in an absolutely natural way,
and over elaboration in explaining what should be a simple and natural
development often prevents the student from securing a good bowing, the
end in view. Sarasate (he was an intimate friend of mine) always used
his bow in the most natural way, his control of it was unsought and
unconscious. Were I a teacher I should not say: 'You must bow as I do';
but rather: 'Find the way of bowing most convenient and natural to
you and use it!' Bowing is largely a physical and individual matter. I
am slender but have long, large fingers; Kreisler is a larger man than I
am but his fingers are small. It stands to reason that there must be a
difference in the way in which we hold and use the bow. The difference
between a great and a mediocre teacher lies in the fact that the first
recognizes that bowing is an individual matter, different in the case of
each individual pupil; and that the greatest perfection is attained by
the development of the individual's capabilities within his own norm.

            [Illustration: JACQUES THIBAUD, with signature]

                          MARSICK AS A TEACHER

"Marsick was a teacher of this type. At each of the lessons I took from
him at the _Conservatoire_ (we went to him three days a week), he would
give me a new _etude_--Gavinies, Rode, Fiorillo, Dont--to prepare for
the next lesson. We also studied all of Paganini, and works by Ernst and
Spohr. For our bow technic he employed difficult passages made into
_etudes_. Scales--the violinist's daily bread--we practiced day in, day
out. Marsick played the piano well, and could improvise marvelous
accompaniments on his violin when his pupils played. I continued my
studies with Marsick even after I left the _Conservatoire_. With him I
believe that three essentials--absolute purity of pitch, equality of
tone and sonority of tone, in connection with the bow--are the base on
which everything else rests.


"Sevcik's purely soulless and mechanical system has undoubtedly produced
a number of excellent mechanicians of the violin. But it has just as
unquestionably killed real talent. Kubelik--there was a genuinely
talented violinist! If he had had another teacher instead of Sevcik he
would have been great, for he had great gifts. Even as it was he played
well, but I consider him one of Sevcik's victims. As an illustration of
how the technical point of view is thrust to the fore by this system I
remember some fifteen years ago Kubelik and I were staying at the same
villa in Monte-Carlo, where we were to play the Beethoven concerto, each
of us, in concert, two days apart. Kubelik spent the live-long day
before the concert practicing Sevcik exercises. I read and studied
Beethoven's score, but did not touch my violin. I went to hear Kubelik
play the concerto, and he played it well; but then, so did I, when my
turn came. And I feel sure I got more out of it musically and
spiritually, than I would have if instead of concentrating on its
meaning, its musical message, I had prepared the concerto as a problem
in violin mechanics whose key was contained in a number of dry technical
exercises arbitrarily laid down.

"Technic, in the case of the more advanced violinist, should not have a
place in the foreground of his consciousness. I heard Rubinstein play
when a boy--what did his false notes amount to compared with his
wonderful manner of disclosing the spirit of the things he played!
Plante, the Parisian pianist, a kind of keyboard cyclone, once expressed
the idea admirably to an English society lady. She had told him he was a
greater pianist than Rubinstein, because the latter played so many wrong
notes. 'Ah, Madame,' answered Plante, 'I would rather be able to play
Rubinstein's wrong notes than all my own correct ones.' A violinist's
natural manner of playing is the one he should cultivate; since it is
individual, it really represents him. And a teacher or a colleague of
greater fame does him no kindness if he encourages him to distrust his
own powers by too good naturedly 'showing' him how to do this, that or
the other. I mean, when the student can work out his problem himself at
the expense of a little initiative.

"When I was younger I once had to play Bach's G minor fugue at a concert
in Brussels. I was living at Ysaye's home, and since I had never played
the composition in public before, I began to worry about its
interpretation. So I asked Ysaye (thinking he would simply show me),
'How ought I to play this fugue?' The Master reflected a moment and then
dashed my hopes by answering: _'Tu m'embetes!'_ (You bore me!) 'This
fugue should be played well, that's all!' At first I was angry, but
thinking it over, I realized that if he had shown me, I would have
played it just as he did; while what he wanted me to do was to work out
my own version, and depend on my own initiative--which I did, for I had
no choice. It is by means of concentration on the higher, the
interpretative phases of one's Art that the technical side takes its
proper, secondary place. Technic does not exist for me in the sense of a
certain quantity of mechanical work which I must do. I find it out of
the question to do absolutely mechanical technical work of any length of
time. In realizing the three essentials of good violin playing which I
have already mentioned, Ysaye and Sarasate are my ideals.


"All really good violinists are good artists. Sarasate, whom I knew so
intimately and remember so well, was a pupil of Alard (my father's
teacher). He literally sang on the violin, like a nightingale. His
purity of intonation was remarkable; and his technical facility was the
most extraordinary that I have ever seen. He handled his bow with
unbelievable skill. And when he played, the unassuming grace of his
movements won the hearts of his audiences and increased the enthusiasm
awakened by his tremendous talent.

"We other violinists, all of us, occasionally play a false note, for we
are not infallible; we may flat a little or sharp a little. But never,
as often as I have heard Sarasate play, did I ever hear him play a wrong
note, one not in perfect pitch. His Spanish things he played like a god!
And he had a wonderful gift of phrasing which gave a charm hard to
define to whatever he played. And playing in quartet--the greatest solo
violinist does not always shine in this _genre_--he was admirable.
Though he played all the standard repertory, Bach, Beethoven, etc., I
can never forget his exquisite rendering of modern works, especially of
a little composition by Raff, called _La Fee d'Amour_. He was the first
to play the violin concertos of Saint-Saens, Lalo and Max Bruch. They
were all written for him, and I doubt whether they would have been
composed had not Sarasate been there to play them. Of course, in his own
Spanish music he was unexcelled--a whole school of violin playing was
born and died with him! He had a hobby for collecting canes. He had
hundreds of them of all kinds, and every sovereign in Europe had
contributed to his collection. I know Queen Christina of Spain gave him
no less than twenty. He once gave me a couple of his canes, a great sign
of favor with him. I have often played quartet with Sarasate, for he
adored quartet playing, and these occasions are among my treasured


"My violin? It is a Stradivarius--the same which once belonged to the
celebrated Baillot. I think it is good for a violin to rest, so during
the three months when I am not playing in concert, I send my
Stradivarius away to the instrument maker's, and only take it out about
a month before I begin to play again in public. What do I use in the
meantime? Caressa, the best violin maker in Paris, made me an exact copy
of my own Strad, exact in every little detail. It is so good that
sometimes, when circumstances compelled me to, I have used it in
concert, though it lacks the tone-quality of the original. This
under-study violin I can use for practice, and when I go back to the
original, as far as the handling of the instrument is concerned, I never
know the difference.

"But I do not think that every one plays to the best advantage on a
Strad. I'm a believer in the theory that there are natural Guarnerius
players and natural Stradivarius players; that certain artists do their
best with the one, and certain others with the other. And I also believe
that any one who is 'equally' good in both, is great on neither. The
reason I believe in Guarnerius players and Stradivarius players as
distinct is this. Some years ago I had a sudden call to play in Ostende.
It was a concert engagement which I had overlooked, and when it was
recalled to me I was playing golf in Brittany. I at once hurried to
Paris to get my violin from Caressa, with whom I had left it, but--his
safe, in which it had been put, and to which he only had the
combination, was locked. Caressa himself was in Milan. I telegraphed him
but found that he could not get back in time before the concert to
release my violin. So I telegraphed Ysaye at Namur, to ask if he could
loan me a violin for the concert. 'Certainly' he wired back. So I
hurried to his home and, with his usual generosity, he insisted on my
taking both his treasured Guarnerius and his 'Hercules' Strad
(afterwards stolen from him in Russia), in order that I might have my
choice. His brother-in-law and some friends accompanied me from Namur to
Ostende--no great distance--to hear the concert. Well, I played the
Guarnerius at rehearsal, and when it was over, every one said to me,
'Why, what is the matter with your fiddle? (It was the one Ysaye always
used.) It has no tone at all.' At the concert I played the Strad and
secured a big tone that filled the hall, as every one assured me. When
I brought back the violins to Ysaye I mentioned the circumstance to him,
and he was so surprised and interested that he took them from the cases
and played a bit, first on one, then on the other, a number of times.
And invariably when he played the Strad (which, by the way, he had not
used for years) he, Ysaye--imagine it!--could develop only a small tone;
and when he played the Guarnerius, he never failed to develop that
great, sonorous tone we all know and love so well. Take Sarasate, when
he lived, Elman, myself--we all have the habit of the Stradivarius: on
the other hand Ysaye and Kreisler are Guarnerius players _par

"Yes, I use a wire E string. Before I found out about them I had no end
of trouble. In New Orleans I snapped seven gut strings at a single
concert. Some say that you can tell the difference, when listening,
between a gut and a wire E. I cannot, and I know a good many others who
cannot. After my last New York recital I had tea with Ysaye, who had
done me the honor of attending it. 'What strings do you use?' he asked
me, _a propos_ to nothing in particular. When I told him I used a wire E
he confessed that he could not have told the difference. And, in fact,
he has adopted the wire E just like Kreisler, Maud Powell and others,
and has told me that he is charmed with it--for Ysaye has had a great
deal of trouble with his strings. I shall continue to use them even
after the war, when it will be possible to obtain good gut strings

                            THE IDEAL PROGRAM

"The whole question of programs and program-making is an intricate one.
In my opinion the usual recital program, piano, song or violin, is too
long. The public likes the recital by a single vocal or instrumental
artist, and financially and for other practical reasons the artist, too,
is better satisfied with them. But are they artistically altogether
satisfactory? I should like to hear Paderewski and Ysaye, Bauer and
Casals, Kreisler and Hofmann all playing at the same recital. What a
variety, what a wealth of contrasting artistic enjoyment such a concert
would afford. There is nothing that is so enjoyable for the true artist
as _ensemble_ playing with his peers. Solo playing seems quite
unimportant beside it.

"I recall as the most perfect and beautiful of all my musical memories,
a string quartet and quintet (with piano) session in Paris, in my own
home, where we played four of the loveliest chamber music works ever
written in the following combination: Beethoven's 7th quartet (Ysaye,
Vo. I, myself, Vo. II, Kreisler, viola--he plays it remarkably well--and
Casals, 'cello); the Schumann quartet (Kreisler, Vo. I, Ysaye, Vo. II,
myself, viola and Casals, 'cello); and the Mozart G major quartet
(myself, Vo. I, Kreisler, Vo. II, Ysaye, viola and Casals, 'cello). Then
we telephoned to Pugno, who came over and joined us and, after an
excellent dinner, we played the Cesar Franck piano quintet. It was the
most enjoyable musical day of my life. A concert manager offered us a
fortune to play in this combination--just two concerts in every capital
in Europe.

"We have not enough variety in our concert programs--not enough
collaboration. The truth is our form of concert, which usually
introduces only one instrument or one group of instruments, such as the
string quartet, is too uniform in color. I can enjoy playing a recital
program of virtuose violin pieces well enough; but I cannot help fearing
that many find it too unicolored. Practical considerations do not do
away with the truth of an artistic contention, though they may often
prevent its realization. What I enjoy most, musically, is to play
together with another good artist. That is why I have had such great
artistic pleasure in the joint recitals I have given with Harold Bauer.
We could play things that were really worth while for each of us--for
the piano parts of the modern sonatas call for a virtuose technical and
musical equipment, and I have had more satisfaction from this _ensemble_
work than I would have had in playing a long list of solo pieces.

"The ideal violin program, to play in public, as I conceive it, is one
that consists of absolute music, or should it contain virtuose pieces,
then these should have some definite musical quality of soul, character,
elegance or charm to recommend them. I think one of the best programs I
have ever played in America is that which I gave with Harold Bauer at
AEolian Hall, New York, during the season of 1917-1918:

             Sonata in B flat .  .  .  .  .  . _Mozart_

             Scenes from Childhood .  .  .  .  _Schumann_
                              H. BAUER

             Poeme  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  _E. Chausson_
                             J. THIBAUD

             Sonata  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . _Cesar Franck_

Or perhaps this other, which Bauer and I played in Boston, during
November, 1913:

             Kreutzer Sonata  .  .  .  .  . .  _Beethoven_

             Sarabanda }
             Giga      }  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  _J.S. Bach_
             Chaconne  }
                              J. THIBAUD

             Kreisleriana  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  _Schumann_
                               H. BAUER

             Sonata  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  _Cesar Franck_

Either of these programs is artistic from the standpoint of the
compositions represented. And even these programs are not too
short--they take almost two hours to play; while for my ideal program an
hour-and-a-half of beautiful music would suffice. You will notice that I
believe in playing the big, fine things in music; in serving roasts
rather than too many _hors d'oeuvres_ and pastry.

"On a solo program, of course, one must make some concessions. When I
play a violin concerto it seems fair enough to give the public three or
four nice little things, but--always pieces which are truly musical, not
such as are only 'ear-ticklers.' Kreisler--he has a great talent for
transcription--has made charming arrangements. So has Tivadar Nachez, of
older things, and Arthur Hartmann. These one can play as well as shorter
numbers by Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski that are delightful, such as the
former's _Ballade et Polonaise_, though I know of musical purists who
disapprove of it. I consider this _Polonaise_ on a level with Chopin's.
Or take, in the virtuoso field, Sarasate's _Gypsy Airs_--they are equal
to any Liszt Rhapsody. I have only recently discovered that Ysaye--my
life-long friend--has written some wonderful original compositions: a
_Poeme elegiaque_, a _Chant d'hiver_, an _Extase_ and a ms. trio for two
violins and alto that is marvelous. These pieces were an absolute find
for me, with the exception of the lovely _Chant d'hiver_, which I have
already played in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin, and expect to
make a feature of my programs this winter. You see, Ysaye is so modest
about his own compositions that he does not attempt to 'push' them, even
with his friends, hence they are not nearly as well known as they
should be.

"I never play operatic transcriptions and never will. The music of the
opera, no matter how fine, appears to me to have its proper place on the
stage--it seems out of place on the violin recital program. The artist
cannot be too careful in the choice of his shorter program pieces. And
he can profit by the example set by some of the foremost violinists of
the day. Ysaye, that great apostle of the truly musical, is a shining
example. It is sad to see certain young artists of genuine talent
disregard the remarkable work of their great contemporary, and secure
easily gained triumphs with compositions whose musical value is _nil_.

"Sometimes the wish to educate the public, to give it a high standard* of
appreciation, leads an artist astray. I heard a well-known German
violinist play in Berlin five years ago, and what do you suppose he
played? Beethoven's _Trios_ transcribed for violin and piano! The last
thing in the world to play! And there was, to my astonishment, no
critical disapproval of what he did. I regard it as little less than a

    *Transcriber's note: Original text read "standad".

"But this whole question of programs and repertory is one without end.
Which of the great concertos do I prefer? That is a difficult question
to answer off-hand. But I can easily tell you which I like least. It is
the Tschaikovsky* violin concerto--I would not exchange the first ten
measures of Vieuxtemps's Fourth concerto for the whole of
Tschaikovsky's, that is from the musical point of view. I have heard the
Tschaikovsky played magnificently by Auer and by Elman; but I consider
it the worst thing the composer has written."

    *Transcriber's note: Original text read "Tchaikovsky".


                             GUSTAV SAENGER


The courts of editorial appeal presided over by such men as Wm. Arms
Fisher, Dr. Theodore Baker, Gustav Saenger and others, have a direct
relation to the establishment and maintenance of standards of musical
mastery in general and, in the case of Gustav Saenger, with "Violin
Mastery" in particular. For this editor, composer and violinist is at
home with every detail of the educational and artistic development of
his instrument, and a considerable portion of the violin music published
in the United States represents his final and authoritative revision.

"Has the work of the editor any influence on the development of 'Violin
Mastery'?" was the first question put to Mr. Saenger when he found time
to see the writer in his editorial rooms. "In a larger sense I think it
has," was the reply. "Mastery of any kind comes as a result of striving
for a definite goal. In the case of the violin student the road of
progress is long, and if he is not to stray off into the numerous
by-paths of error, it must be liberally provided with sign-posts. These
sign-posts, in the way of clear and exact indications with regard to
bowing, fingering, interpretation, it is the editor's duty to erect. The
student himself must provide mechanical ability and emotional instinct,
the teacher must develop and perfect them, and the editor must neglect
nothing in the way of explanation, illustration and example which will
help both teacher and pupil to obtain more intimate insight into the
musical and technical values. Yes, I think the editor may claim to be a
factor in the attainment of 'Violin Mastery.'

                         OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLES

"The work of the responsible editor of modern violin music must have
constructive value, it must suggest and stimulate. When Kreutzer,
Gavinies and Rode first published their work, little stress was laid on
editorial revision. You will find little in the way of fingering
indicated in the old editions of Kreutzer. It was not till long after
Kreutzer's death that his pupil, Massart, published an excellent
little book, which he called 'The Art of Studying R. Kreutzer's Etudes'
and which I have translated. It contains no less than four hundred and
twelve examples specially designed to aid the student to master the
_Etudes_ in the spirit of their composer. Yet these studies, as
difficult to-day as they were when first written, are old wine that need
no bush, though they have gained by being decanted into new bottles of
editorial revision.

          [Illustration: GUSTAV SAENGER, with hand-written note]

"They have such fundamental value, that they allow of infinite variety
of treatment and editorial presentation. Every student who has reached a
certain degree of technical proficiency takes them up. Yet when studying
them for the first time, as a rule it is all he can do to master them in
a purely superficial way. When he has passed beyond them, he can return
to them with greater technical facility and, because of their infinite
variety, find that they offer him any number of new study problems. As
with Kreutzer--an essential to 'Violin Mastery'--so it is with Rode,
Fiorillo, and Gavinies. Editorial care has prepared the studies in
distinct editions, such as those of Hermann and Singer, specifically for
the student, and that of Emil Kross, for the advanced player. These
editions give the work of the teacher a more direct proportion of
result. The difference between the two types is mainly in the fingering.
In the case of the student editions a simple, practical fingering of
positive educational value is given; and the student should be careful
to use editions of this kind, meant for him. Kross provides many of the
_etudes_ with fingerings which only the virtuoso player is able to
apply. Aside from technical considerations the absolute musical beauty
of many of these studies is great, and they are well suited for solo
performance. Rode's _Caprices_, for instance, are particularly suited
for such a purpose, and many of Paganini's famous _Caprices_ have found
a lasting place in the concert repertory, with piano accompaniments by
artists like Kreisler, Eddy Brown, Edward Behm and Max Vogrich--- the
last-named composer's three beautiful 'Characteristic Pieces' after
Paganini are worth any violinist's attention.

                        AMERICAN EDITORIAL IDEALS

"In this country those intrusted with editorial responsibility as
regards violin music have upheld a truly American standard of
independent judgment. The time has long since passed when foreign
editions were accepted on their face value, particularly older works. In
a word, the conscientious American editor of violin music reflects in
his editions the actual state of progress of the art of violin playing
as established by the best teachers and teaching methods, whether the
works in question represent a higher or lower standard of artistic

"And this is no easy task. One must remember that the peculiar
construction of the violin with regard to its technical possibilities
makes the presentation of a violin piece difficult from an editorial
standpoint. A composition may be so written that a beginner can play it
in the first position; and the same number may be played with beautiful
effects in the higher positions by an artist. This accounts for the fact
that in many modern editions of solo music for violin, double
fingerings, for student and advanced players respectively, are
indicated--an essentially modern editorial development. Modern
instructive works by such masters as Sevcik, Eberhardt and others have
made technical problems more clearly and concisely get-at-able than did
the older methods. Yet some of these older works are by no means
negligible, though of course, in all classic violin literature, from
Tartini on, Kreutzer, Spohr, Paganini, Ernst, each individual artist
represents his own school, his own method to the exclusion of any other.
Spohr was one of the first to devote editorial attention to his own
method, one which, despite its age, is a valuable work, though most
students do not know how to use it. It is really a method for the
advanced player, since it presupposes a good deal of preliminary
technical knowledge, and begins at once with the higher positions. It is
rather a series of study pieces for the special development of certain
difficult phases, musical and technical, of the violinist's art, than a
method. I have translated and edited the American edition of this work,
and the many explanatory notes with which Spohr has provided* it--as in
his own 9th, and the Rode concerto (included as representative of what
violin concertos really should be), the measures being provided with
group numbers for convenience in reference--are not obsolete. They are
still valid, and any one who can appreciate the ideals of the
_Gesangsscene_, its beautiful _cantilene_ and pure serenity, may profit
by them. I enjoyed editing this work because I myself had studied with
Carl Richter, a Spohr pupil, who had all his master's traditions.

    *Transcriber's note: Original text read "provied".


"That the editorial revisions of a number of our greatest living
violinists and teachers have passed through my editorial rooms, on their
way to press, is a fact of which I am decidedly proud. Leopold Auer, for
instance, is one of the most careful, exact and practical of editors,
and the fact is worth dwelling on since sometimes the great artist or
teacher quite naturally forgets that those for whom he is editing a
composition have neither his knowledge nor resources. Auer never loses
sight of the composer's _own ideas_.

"And when I mention great violinists with whom I have been associated as
an editor, Mischa Elman must not be forgotten. I found it at first a
difficult matter to induce an artist like Elman, for whom no technical
difficulties exist, to seriously consider the limitations of the average
player in his fingerings and interpretative demands. Elman, like every
great _virtuoso_ of his caliber, is influenced in his revisions by the
manner in which he himself does things. I remember in one instance I
could see no reason why he should mark the third finger for a
_cantilena_ passage where a certain effect was desired, and questioned
it. Catching up his violin he played the note preceding it with his
second finger, then instead of slipping the second finger down the
string, he took the next note with the third, in such a way that a most
exquisite _legato_ effect, like a breath, the echo of a sigh, was
secured. And the beauty of tone color in this instance not only proved
his point, but has led me invariably to examine very closely a fingering
on the part of a master violinist which represents a departure from the
conventional--it is often the technical key to some new beauty of
interpretation or expression.

"Fritz Kreisler's individuality is also reflected in his markings and
fingerings. Of course those in his 'educational' editions are strictly
meant for study needs. But in general they are difficult and based on
his own manner and style of playing. As he himself has remarked: 'I
could play the violin just as well with three as with four fingers.'
Kreisler is fond of 'fingered' octaves, and these, because of his
abnormal hand, he plays with the first and third fingers, where virtuose
players, as a rule, are only too happy if they can play them with the
first and fourth. To verify this individual character of his revisions,
one need only glance at his edition of Godowsky's '12 Impressions' for
violin--in every case the fingerings indicated are difficult in the
extreme; yet they supply the key to definite effects, and since this
music is intended for the advance player, are quite in order.

"The ms. and revisions of many other distinguished artists have passed
through my hands. Theodore Spiering has been responsible for the
educational detail of classic and modern works; Arthur Hartmann--a
composer of marked originality--Albert Spalding, Eddy Brown, Francis
MacMillan, Max Pilzer, David Hochstein, Richard Czerwonky, Cecil
Burleigh, Edwin Grasse, Edmund Severn, Franz C. Bornschein, Leo
Ornstein, Rubin Goldmark, Louis Pershinger, Louis Victor Saar--whose ms.
always look as though engraved--have all given me opportunities of
seeing the best the American violin composer is creating at the present

                        EDITORIAL DIFFICULTIES

"The revisional work of the master violinist is of very great
importance, but often great artists and distinguished teachers hold
radically different views with regard to practically every detail of
their art. And it is by no means easy for an editor like myself, who is
finally responsible for their editions, to harmonize a hundred
conflicting views and opinions. The fiddlers best qualified to speak
with authority will often disagree absolutely regarding the use of a
string, position, up-bow or down-bow. And besides meeting the needs of
student and teacher, an editor-in-chief must bear in mind the artistic
requirements of the music itself. In many cases the divergence in
teaching standards reflects the personal preferences for the editions
used. Less ambitious teachers choose methods which make the study of the
violin as _easy_ as possible for _them_; rather than those which--in the
long run--may be most advantageous for the _pupil_. The best editions of
studies are often cast aside for trivial reasons, such as are embodied
in the poor excuse that 'the fourth finger is too frequently indicated.'
According to the old-time formulas, it was generally accepted that
ascending passages should be played on the open strings and descending
ones using the fourth finger. It stands to reason that the use of the
fourth finger involves more effort, is a greater tax of strength, and
that the open string is an easier playing proposition. Yet a really
perfected technic demands that the fourth finger be every bit as strong
and flexible as any of the others. By nature it is shorter and weaker,
and beginners usually have great trouble with it--which makes perfect
control of it all the more essential! And yet teachers, contrary to all
sound principle and merely to save effort--temporarily--for themselves
and their pupils, will often reject an edition of a method or book of
studies merely because in its editing the fourth finger has not been
deprived of its proper chance of development. I know of cases where,
were it not for the guidance supplied by editorial revision, the average
teacher would have had no idea of the purpose of the studies he was
using. One great feature of good modern editions of classical study
works, from Kreutzer to Paganini, is the double editorial numeration:
one giving the sequence as in the original editions; the other numbering
the studies in order of technical difficulty, so that they may be
practiced progressively.


"What special editorial work of mine has given me the greatest personal
satisfaction in the doing? That is a hard question to answer. Off-hand
I might say that, perhaps, the collection of progressive orchestral
studies for advanced violinists which I have compiled and annotated for
the benefit of the symphony orchestra player is something that has meant
much to me personally. Years ago, when I played professionally--long
before the days of 'miniature' orchestra scores--it was almost
impossible for an ambitious young violinist to acquaint himself with the
first and second violin parts of the great symphonic works. Prices of
scores were prohibitive--and though in such works as the Brahms
symphonies, for instance, the 'concertmaster's' part should be studied
from score, in its relation to the rest of the _partitura_--often,
merely to obtain a first violin part, I had to acquire the entire set of
strings. So when I became an editor I determined, in view of my own
unhappy experiences and that of many others, to give the aspiring
fiddler who really wanted to 'get at' the violin parts of the best
symphonic music, from Bach to Brahms and Richard Strauss, a chance to do
so. And I believe I solved the problem in the five books of the 'Modern
Concert-Master,' which includes all those really difficult and important
passages in the great repertory works of the symphony orchestra that
offer violinistic problems. My only regret is that the grasping attitude
of European publishers prevented the representation of certain important
symphonic numbers. Yet, as it stands, I think I may say that the five
encyclopedic books of the collection give the symphony concertmaster
every practical opportunity to gain orchestral routine, and orchestral


"What I am inclined to consider, however, as even more important, in a
sense, than my editorial labors is a new educational classification of
violin literature, one which practically covers the entire field of
violin music, and upon which I have been engaged for several years.
Insomuch as an editor's work helps in the acquisition of 'Violin
Mastery,' I am tempted to think this catalogue will be a contribution of
real value.

"As far as I know there does not at present exist any guide or hand-book
of violin literature in which the fundamental question of grading has
been presented _au fond_. This is not strange, since the task of
compiling a really valid and logically graded guide-book of violin
literature is one that offers great difficulties from almost every
point of view.

"Yet I have found the work engrossing, because the need of a book of the
kind which makes it easy for the teacher to bring his pupils ahead more
rapidly and intelligently by giving him an oversight of the entire
teaching-material of the violin and under clear, practical heads in
detail order of progression is making itself more urgently felt every
day. In classification (there are seven grades and a preparatory grade),
I have not chosen an easier and conventional plan of _general_
consideration of difficulties; but have followed a more systematic
scheme, one more closely related to the study of the instrument itself.
Thus, my 'Preparatory Grade' contains only material which could be
advantageously used with children and beginners, those still struggling
with the simplest elementary problems--correct drawing of the bow across
the open strings, in a certain rhythmic order, and the first use of the
fingers. And throughout the grades are special sub-sections for special
difficulties, special technical and other problems. In short, I cannot
help but feel that I have compiled a real guide, one with a definite
educational value, and not a catalogue, masquerading as a violinistic


"One of the most significant features of the violin guide I have
mentioned is, perhaps, the fact that its contents largely cover the
whole range of violin literature in American editions. There was a time,
years ago, when 'made in Germany' was accepted as a certificate of
editorial excellence and mechanical perfection. Those days have long
since passed, and the American edition has come into its own. It has
reached a point of development where it is of far more practical and
musically stimulating value than any European edition. For American
editions of violin music do not take so much for granted! They reflect
in the highest degree the needs of students and players in smaller
places throughout the country, and where teachers are rare or
non-existent they do much to supply instruction by meticulous regard for
all detail of fingering, bowing, phrasing, expression, by insisting in
explanatory annotation on the correct presentation of authoritative
teaching ideas and principles. In a broader sense 'Violin Mastery' knows
no nationality; but yet we associate the famous artists of the day with
individual and distinctively national trends of development and
'schools.' In this connection I am convinced that one result of this
great war of world liberation we have waged, one by-product of the
triumph of the democratic truth, will be a notably 'American' ideal of
'Violin Mastery,' in the musical as well as the technical sense. And in
the development of this ideal I do not think it is too much to claim
that American editions of violin music, and those who are responsible
for them, will have done their part."

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